She’s the exotic Russian siren who has won herself legions of male admirers since joining Strictly six years ago.
Katya Jones has the body of a professional dancer, of course: lithe, slinky and seemingly impervious to gravity even when performing the liveliest Charleston or gliding through a sensual tango.
Her face, meanwhile – soulful dark eyes and pouting mouth – comes from her mixed Korean and Russian heritage.
So it might come as a surprise to most people to hear that she hasn’t been on a single date since she separated from her husband Neil in the summer of 2019. Not one – and it’s not for lack of trying.
She’s even joined the exclusive dating app Raya, but so far has had no luck.
In an exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday, Katya revealed she believes men are too scared to even approach her – let alone start a relationship with her.
She’s the exotic Russian siren who won herself legions of male admirers since joining Strictly six years ago. So it might be a surprise to hear that she hasn’t been on a single date since 2019
‘There is no man on the scene, and of course I am looking,’ she says. ‘I have not been on a single date since I separated from Neil. I wish there was a scenario, I didn’t even get to have a scenario, do you know what I mean?’
Surely she must have had some approaches, though? ‘Not even any of those,’ she says. And the reason? ‘They are probably too intimidated.’
‘They are that intimidated that they wouldn’t even take the first step. I mean my standards are high, I am not going to lie. I am not one to waste my time with pointless chat if there’s no substance to the conversation either.
‘It would be nice to find love, I think it would be lovely, but I feel like men in the current, modern world are very fearful and it has proven to be very tough to find a relationship.
‘I have a lot of single female friends who are phenomenal women, and we would all agree that it is difficult to find love in these times because often men can find successful, strong women daunting. So it is proving very hard.’ Perhaps, it would be fair to argue, they might have good reason to be scared? She’s no doubt a tremendously attractive woman – but she also comes with a fearsome reputation.
For this year’s Strictly line-up, she was partnered with former Arsenal footballer Tony Adams who had a certain elan on the pitch but freely admitted he was no ballroom dancer.
Argue with Tony? People only said that because they couldn’t accuse us of having an affair
After Katya Jones and former footballer Tony Adams finished a blunder-filled salsa in episode seven of this year’s Strictly, viewers thought the pair had become embroiled in an on-screen argument.
But Katya shrugged off what appeared to be a heated exchange, laughing: ‘When we can’t be accused of having a romance, then [people say] we do not get on and that we are fighting. It’s typical.’
In the closing minutes of the show earlier this month, ex-England captain Adams could be seen holding out his arms and apparently remonstrating with Katya after scoring just 21 points and being lambasted by the judges.
But she claims that they were merely analysing their routine to Pitbull’s I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho) – and that he made only a few mistakes.
She said: ‘That show we were the last couple to go on, and we only had two minutes before we had to get back for the final sequence. We didn’t get a moment to have a debrief and some of the steps did go wrong.
‘It’s really important to analyse. He was telling me where he thought he went wrong but he is so tall that I couldn’t see him or hear him.
‘I’m not sure how it was deduced from the back of my head that I was angry at him! People make assumptions. We found it funny because it couldn’t be further away from the truth.’
Miss Jones revealed that she and Adams are like ‘an old married couple’ after being put together for this year’s series. She spoke of her admiration for him and how he entertained the nation despite being bottom of the leader board most weeks.
She said: ‘This show is not the world championships. People tune in and sit around on the sofa to escape. They want to turn on the telly and have colour, fun and joy on their screens.
‘They want to relate to the contestants and with Tony they did just that. He was able to connect to people at home. They took their hats off to him.
‘He wasn’t afraid to take risks and put himself out there and that’s what people enjoyed and that’s why he got so much love which he was overwhelmed by.’
Adams was forced to withdraw from the show in the episode after their salsa because the rigorous training he put his body through ‘took its toll’.
Speaking of his decision, Katya said: ‘It was the jive in week eight and it was particularly hard. It was a difficult week. He wanted to give it everything, and he did.
‘I even said to him, “Where did this come from?” But he said to me afterwards: “It doesn’t feel great.” And when it came to the dance-off he thought it would be too risky to do a jive again.
‘I was very content that if he had to go, then he had to go.
‘Our time on the show was a triumph, I was happy, he was happy.’
As the live show on November 5 was wrapping up, eagle-eyed viewers spotted Katya and Tony, 56, off camera having what looked like a furious row. Tony had made a string of mistakes during their salsa routine and they’d ended up bottom of the leader board.
Tony called Katya ‘over-critical’ and, a week later, was forced to pull out of the show with a hamstring injury.
Meanwhile, Katya, 33, and her ex, Neil, 40, remain on good terms. He even joined Katya and Tony at an Arsenal match at the Emirates stadium to watch them play his team Liverpool earlier this year, and the pair still work – and dance – side by side on Strictly.
Crucially, however, while Neil has gone on to date other women – he’s currently seeing the 24-year-old Love Island star Chyna Mills – Katya hasn’t had a single date, which she admits might be down to her ‘high standards’.
But she won’t be giving up any time soon: ‘It could be that men see me on television and are scared, they think I’m unapproachable for some reason which is obviously not true. We are all just humans looking for love – but if they’re not brave enough then they’re not the one, so I will carry on waiting.
‘Admittedly, I don’t have a lot of time for dating while I’m competing, but I don’t want anyone unless they will add value to my life. I don’t want someone just to fill the gaps that I might have in my life, neither do I want to fill any of the gaps in theirs.
‘Independence in a relationship is really important to me. Maybe that isn’t helpful but it’s quite simple; we are all just looking for love.’
Katya is nothing if not formidable. Since joining the show six years ago, she has trained an array of celebrities to dance. Some have been more challenging than others, there was of course former Labour MP Ed Balls, swimmer Adam Peaty and BBC presenter Mike Bushell.
Katya won the series in 2017 with actor Joe McFadden and she was also the first of the show’s dancers to be part of a same-sex couple when she was paired with boxer Nicola Adams.
It’s fair to say that she has absolutely no fear. She herself says she believes anyone can be trained to dance and be entertaining, her most recent success being Tony Adams who, against the odds and not being able to dance a step at first, lasted until week eight.
Perhaps predictably, as a successful, high-profile woman, she is the victim of people taking to social media to share their opinions on her – some unkind.
Does it faze her? ‘I could not care what people say about me, I absolutely could not,’ she says. ‘It’s their opinions and that is nothing to do with me, it does not define me, my life or what is going on in my life. I live how I want to, not being influenced by the opinions of others, and I wish others would do the same whether you’re in the public eye or not because it is so much easier and freer.
‘The first day I joined Strictly, I said to myself that I would not allow myself to change or care about people’s opinions. I will always stay authentic to myself, and I have stuck by that.
‘It’s the only reason I have been able to do my job, how I am able to stay the person that I am while being in the public eye. And to have friends and good relationships with people. I have my morals and I stick by them. I would like to think that comes through. People who know me know who I am.’
One person who knows Katya only too well is Adams. Strictly viewers have taken much joy from their ‘journey’ on the show – one which the former footballer himself has admitted he thought would be somewhat brief. They made it to week eight when, finally, he decided he had to quit due to previous injuries. But he will never forget Katya – because he named one of his baby pigs after her.
Adams and his wife Poppy, who Katya ‘adores’, bought the two pets shortly after Strictly began, and around the same time the star realised his new dance teacher occasionally snorted at the end of her laughs.
‘When we started dancing together, I began spending a lot of time at Tony’s family home,’ recalls Katya. ‘I met his wife and his children; I went to see their school plays and concerts. They didn’t have the pigs when I first met them, but they were talking about it.
‘Then they eventually got them and they started thinking of the names. Because I kept snorting in the rehearsals, Tony said we must call one of them after you. So, they did, and that one is definitely the leader of the gang,’ she laughs. ‘They all call me Kat, so the pig is called Kat the pig. We laughed so much in rehearsals, and my laugh often ended up in snorting fashion. I hope I can always be in their lives now.’
Last month, Katya attracted a lot of attention when she wore a tiny white tennis dress for a dance routine with Adams, to the Grandstand theme tune, marking 100 years of the BBC. Men were wowed by her and women were frankly in awe of her stunning figure.
For those wanting to know how she manages it, she puts it down to a lot of hot yoga – a form of the exercise that is performed in hot and humid conditions. Lady Gaga is a fan, as are Beyonce, Jennifer Aniston and George Clooney.
Katya says: ‘I absolutely love hot yoga and even on Strictly rehearsal days, if I have a chance to go to a 7am class then I will still go. I would not survive without it.
‘Movement is life. I walk, I stretch in the mornings because it motivates your mind to make good decisions through the day.
‘I also do a lot of weight training. We dance a lot, but it isn’t enough. Movement and exercise is a form of meditation for me. I set the day off strong so I make the right decisions. For me, it’s what exercise gives me mentally.’
For this year’s Strictly line-up, she was partnered with former Arsenal footballer Tony Adams who had a certain elan on the pitch but freely admitted he was no ballroom dancer
Moving – and dancing – has played a huge part in her life. She grew up in the Russian city of Saint Petersburg where she began dancing at the age of six, before going on to become a champion in ballroom.
She met fellow professional dancer Neil Jones in 2008, aged 18, when he stepped up to fill in for Katya’s usual partner at a Blackpool competition.
The couple became four-time British national champions and three-time world amateur Latin champions, and married in 2013.
She is about to complete her seventh series of Strictly and is very much in demand across the showbusiness industry, though despite this she says she has no immediate plans to waltz off the programme.
‘I will continue to do Strictly while I have love for it,’ she says.
‘It’s too intense to do it without passion. So far, I have loved every single year, every single minute of it.
‘I will carry on but there are other things I would love to do, though meanwhile I will continue with that stuff and see what happens at the end of it.’
Even if she gets given a really duff dancer down the line?
‘There is nothing too difficult for me, no challenge is too big for me – I am Katya Jones.
‘As professionals on the show we wear multiple hats, we can’t do it unless you genuinely love it.
‘The more challenging it is the more rewarding it is and that’s what motivates me and drives me.
‘If I can take Tony Adams from week one, who didn’t manage to get a step right, to him dancing like he did every week after that really, then I can do anything.’
Take note, gentlemen.