Neil Jones has finally returned to Strictly Come Dancing, but Motsi Mabuse had viewers cringing when she compared him being reunited with Alex Scott to a couple getting back together after an affair.
Judge Mabuse made the awkward comment after Scott and Jones’ Jive, their first performance together in three weeks as pro dancer Jones had been replaced by Kevin Clifton while recovering from a calf injury.
Both fans and judges had noticed the dance chemistry between Clifton and Scott, which saw the former Lioness achieve some of her highest scores, and Mabuse couldn’t help but mention it in her critique.
She told Scott and Jones: “I feel like we’re seeing a new couple that we knew, but somebody had an affair and now the light is back on.”
Did... Motsi just... make a joke about a dancer having an affair... to NEIL JONES 😬😬😬😂😂😂 #Strictly— Aine Mc Manus (@ainemm91) November 9, 2019
As the audience and host Tess Daly dissolved into laughter, she added: “You guys feel fresh, you feel new, you know what I mean.”
Viewers felt the comment held an extra level of awkwardness because Jones recently split with his wife, Strictly co-star Katya Jones, who had been caught kissing her celebrity partner Seann Walsh during last year’s competition.
Neil's face at Motsi's comment said it all #strictly— Kirsty McComish (@KirstyMcComish) November 9, 2019
Wow! Does Motsi realise her comparison of Alex and Neil’s break being like having an affair, has just been made to the guy who’s actual wife had an affair with her celebrity partner on last years show?!!! OK it was more of a really public snog and grope but still #Strictly— Sarah Raby (@srglitterbug) November 9, 2019
Shame on the #Strictly editor for not cutting to Katya when Motsi made an affair comment to Neil!!— What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?? (@Gatz77) November 9, 2019
Clifton, who stepped in with 45 minutes’ notice in week six when Jones was injured, split with his wife Karen Hauer who also dances in Strictly before the beginning of last series and is now dating his 2018 co-star, Stacey Dooley.
He won last year’s contest with Dooley and it later emerged that the pair were in a relationship, with Dooley’s ex Sam Tucknott claiming the relationship began while they were still together - something that TV presenter Dooley has denied.
Jones and Scott opened Saturday night’s show with an energetic Jive, scoring 31, as Jones said: “It’s good to be back.”
Head judge Shirley Ballas told them: “Congratulations on coming back, good to see you in good health and back again.
“(Alex) you do look like you’re having the time of your life.”
Strictly Come Dancing returns for the results show on Sunday at 7.15pm on BBC One.