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Kev’s helped so much with motherhood but I won’t marry him, says Stacey Dooley

THEY triumphed on Strictly, gliding around the dance floor in a whirl of sequins and glitter.

But now new parents Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton spend their time staggering bleary-eyed about their home arguing over spilt breast milk.

Stacey Dooley, pictured with boyfriend Kevin Clifton and their baby Minnie, says she is no rush to tie the knot

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Stacey Dooley, pictured with boyfriend Kevin Clifton and their baby Minnie, says she is no rush to tie the knotCredit: UKTV / Guy Levy
Stacey and Kevin fell in love on Strictly Come Dancing

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Stacey and Kevin fell in love on Strictly Come DancingCredit: BBC

The couple, who fell in love on the BBC1 dance show, have vowed not to have another baby — because they reckon they are currently “failing” at looking after their firstborn, daughter Minnie, six months.

And Stacey, 36, is in even less of a hurry to get hitched to her pro dancer boyfriend of five years Kevin, 40 — because he has already been married and divorced three times.

In her most candid chat ever, Stacey reveals: “Marriage has never been massively important to me.

“Also, it’s well documented that Kev’s done it a couple of times before.

“So, you do have to bear that in mind, coming down the aisle like, ‘Hello everyone, I know what you’re all thinking’.

“It’s just never been something I’ve dreamt about.

“But I couldn’t have done this (motherhood) without Kev.

“It’s weird. I’ve always loved him, but it’s a different love I have for Kev now.”

Stacey was an up-and-coming filmmaker when she burst into the mainstream after being paired with Kevin on Strictly in 2018.

He was still reeling from his third divorce after splitting from fellow dancer Karen Hauer that March.

It followed his first three-year marriage at the age of 20 to Latin pro Anna Melnikova. He then wed another dancer, Clare Craze, in 2007 but they broke up in 2010.

After lifting the Glitterball Trophy with Stacey in December 2018, a gushing Kevin thanked the redhead for pulling him out a hole after a “difficult year”.

‘Hardest gig’

So few were surprised when her seven-year relationship with personal trainer Sam Tucknott ended in April 2019, and she soon went public about her romance with the dancer — although she has always maintained there was no overlap.

They announced Stacey was pregnant with Minnie last August.

Stacey said: “I don’t subscribe to the idea that you offer more stability if you’re married, because we know loads of marriages end in divorce.

“But Kev, I don’t want to sound too gushing or soppy, but I couldn’t have done this without Kev. I couldn’t have done this with anyone else.”

Their bundle of joy arrived in January and has turned their world upside down.

Stacey has shared the highs and lows in a one-off special of her Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over series for W called Family And Me.

In it, the notoriously private documentary-maker is at her most raw — particularly when discussing the chance of baby No2.

She says: “Do you know what’s hilarious? You’re so tired and sometimes you really feel like you’re in the trenches, it’s a haze and you’re just trying to figure it all out.

“I think I would love to have more babies. But I said to Kev the other day, ‘Don’t you want to do this again?’. And he went, ‘Are you nuts? You’re over-tired!’.

“I don’t know how people have four children. I’ve had one and am completely failing.”

The lack of sleep and onslaught of hormones have proved to be a rollercoaster.

Stacey goes on: “It’s rare that the pair of us have had a wash.

“The first night was absolute chaos. We got home, we were like, ‘This is bonkers’. Then we were panicking that she wasn’t taking the boob, she was crying, we were going, ‘skin to skin’, so the pair of us were running around naked.

“The sleep deprivation . . . to be perfectly honest, I completely underestimated. I had four hours last night, which is incredible.”

Stacey has shared the highs and lows of motherhood in a one-off special of her Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over series for W called Family And Me

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Stacey has shared the highs and lows of motherhood in a one-off special of her Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over series for W called Family And MeCredit: keviclifton/instagram
Stacey was an up-and-coming filmmaker when she burst into the mainstream after being paired with Kevin on Strictly in 2018

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Stacey was an up-and-coming filmmaker when she burst into the mainstream after being paired with Kevin on Strictly in 2018Credit: UKTV / Guy Levy

In a scenario familiar to parents the world over, it has led to tense moments for the lovebirds.

In another scene, Stacey explains with a laugh: “What’s so hilarious is you think you’ve got the hang of things, you’re like, ‘I’ve had a couple of hours sleep, I’m feeling great’, and then I’d been expressing and I’d managed 80ml or something.

“I was like, ‘This is great, that’s another feed sorted’.

“I said to Kev, ‘Will you just put this in the bottle?’. He took it and just threw it all over the floor, obviously not on purpose.

“I heard what had gone on. I thought, ‘Don’t kick off, it wasn’t deliberate’. I just took myself upstairs, got into bed and cried and cried and cried. The pillow was wet. Everything feels so massive, your hormones are all over the shop.

“You’ll take a ready meal out of the oven and it will fall on the floor and you burst into tears like you’ve just been told you’ve got days to live.”

Stacey was awarded an MBE in 2018 for her services to broadcasting.

She has travelled the world in the name of documentary-making, even reporting from the frontline.

And many of her factual films have been recognised for TV awards, including a gong at the One World Media Awards for Stacey Dooley: Face to Face with ISIS.

Yet she now declares motherhood her “hardest gig”.

She says: “To say I have found the last couple of months easy would be totally disingenuous. I used to think people were exaggerating and being melodramatic when they were saying how hard it is.

“But, honest to God, it’s the hardest gig you’ll ever do.”

The news of Stacey’s pregnancy last year came after her most revealing work yet, when she was challenged to think about her own existence while living as a nun for BBC film Inside The Convent.

It provoked a meltdown as she opened up to the sisters about being childless and unhappy at 35.

Continuing on her W special, she says: “I can’t sit here and say I was ever deeply obsessed with the idea of being a mum.

“But it’s bonkers, the minute you find out — I sound so cheesy, I can’t believe it’s me sat here saying all this — but you’re so in love. I just changed when I found out I was pregnant.

“And when they arrive it’s next level, it’s off the chart, it’s love that I have never experienced.

“It’s totally bonkers, you’ll do anything for your child. Anything.

“It’s quite humbling, really, because suddenly there’s someone a million times more important than yourself.

“Your sole purpose is to look after them and protect them. I’d never had someone who relies on me in that way.”

Kevin's wed Latin pro dancer Anna Melnikova when he was 20 years old

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Kevin’s wed Latin pro dancer Anna Melnikova when he was 20 years old
Kevin with second wife Clare

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Kevin with second wife Clare

The warm and fuzzy feeling didn’t help Stacey sail through labour, though.

She says with a laugh: “I looked like I had been dug up and then dragged through a hedge. For me, I couldn’t think of anything worse than a home birth, just like a swimming pool in the living room, you end up sh**ing yourself and there’s s**t in the pool.

“Just ply me with drugs, all the drugs!

“My doctor was so brilliant. I was hysterical, going ‘Is she OK? Is she OK?’. And she was like, ‘Babe, she’s not out yet!’. I was a total wreck.”

Stacey and Kevin are now considering Minnie’s future.

But one thing is for sure, she won’t be a star of the dance floor.

Somewhat surprisingly, Stacey reveals Kevin is dead against his little girl following in his footsteps when she chooses a career.

She says: “I think Minnie’s going to have such rhythm because, of course, Kev can dance. I would love her to dance, Kev doesn’t. It’s always about winning, so you think, ‘S**t, if I don’t win . . . ’.

“Kev wants to avoid Minnie walking in his footsteps.”

One thing they do agree on is their stance on sharing snaps of their daughter online.

Fans have noted they both steer clear of baby spam.

In another conversation-starter, Stacey says: “Me and Kev have had various chats, do we show Minnie? Do we not show Minnie?

“I think the reason Kev and I have decided that for now we’re not putting Minnie out there is because I want her to give genuine consent. And also, the internet is wild.

“I just want to protect her from any of that nonsense or any of that chaos. Even though I would love to show off my Minnie, I’m keeping our shots to her beautiful head and tiny digits.

“She’s not going to be in the limelight.”

Stacey says the trend of sharing everything online horrifies her.

She adds: “I feel so lucky that I grew up when social media wasn’t on the scene.

“We’ve created this landscape that’s totally unsustainable and it’s frightening, it’s really scary.

“It does frighten me. The whole online thing, social media terrifies me.

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“I know how lucky I am to have Kev by my side as we raise Minnie together.”

  • Watch Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over: Family And Me at 10pm on August 3 on W.




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