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Strictly Come Dancing‘s Johannes Radebe has spoken of how his mother encouraged his ballroom dreams despite them struggling financially.
The professional dancer, 33, was raised by his mother Jacobeth, 61, in the township of Sasolburg, South Africa, after his father died when he was 12.
Radebe told Hello! magazine: ‘We struggled financially but whatever we lacked she made up for with love.
Proud: Strictly Come Dancing’s Johannes Radebe has spoken of how his mother encouraged his ballroom dreams despite them struggling financially
‘I learned that as long as you have a hot meal, a bed and roof over your head, you should be grateful.
‘Above all, mum taught me how to love and for the people around you to feel loved.
‘I respect and applaud her. She has done a phenomenal job and she’s unique, my best friend.’
Historic: The dancer, who famously performed a same sex routine last year, suffered homophobic bullying when he was growing up
Radebe has been with his family in Sasolburg since lockdown began.
He said: ‘This is where I began my journey. To have mum with me now is so special. It’s rare to find her dancing but I know she can move.
‘I’ve watched her when her favourite music is playing. She’s such an elegant woman so I think ballroom would be perfect for her.’
His mother told the magazine about the homophobic bullying her son, who is gay, experienced when he was growing up.
Path to the top: The professional dancer, 33, was raised by his mother Jacobeth, 61, in the township of Sasolburg, South Africa, after his father died when he was 12
She said: ‘I couldn’t fight the world for my son but I made sure he was loved and that he treated everyone with respect and kindness.
‘Where are those bullies now who were mocking the very thing that launched him into his destiny?
‘I’m immensely proud and happy for him. When I watch him dance it feels surreal. What blows my mind is that it’s real and he’s my son.’
The BBC has confirmed Strictly will return to screens later this year, but with a shorter series than usual due to coronavirus.
In the diary: The BBC has confirmed Strictly will return to screens later this year, but with a shorter series than usual due to coronavirus
‘I’m as intrigued as anyone,’ said Radebe.
‘Fingers crossed they find a solution because we can’t face the winter without Strictly. People won’t be able to cope.’
Grab your copy: Read the full interview in this week’s Hello! magazine
It comes after rumours that Westlife’s Mark Feehily is set to be part of Strictly’s first same-sex couple.
According to reports, the singer, 40, is in talks to appear on the dance competition show for its 2020 edition, and will be paired up with Johannes.
A source told The Sun: ‘Mark’s a big Strictly fan. Nearly all the celebs are signed up, but the Beeb are keen to make this work and get him on board.’
Mark, who came out as gay publicly in 2005, was allegedly approached to be a part of the show’s 2019 series, but had to turn it down as Westlife were set to go on tour at the time.
MailOnline have contacted Strictly Come Dancing and Mark’s representatives for comment.
In November last year Mark expressed his interest in signing up to Strictly to The Mirror, but only if he was paired up with a man as otherwise it would ‘feel strange’.
Making history: Westlife’s Mark Feehily is ‘set to star in Strictly Come Dancing’s first same-sex couple with Johannes’, it was reported on Saturday
Interested: In November last year Mark (pictured in 2019) expressed his interest in signing up to Strictly, but only if he was paired up with a man as otherwise it would ‘feel strange’
Of how he wanted to be in the show’s first same-sex couple, he said: ‘It would have to be with a guy as it would feel strange for me to go with a girl.
‘Well, it wouldn’t feel strange but why wouldn’t I do it with a guy?’
It was also reported by The Daily Star that the show’s Christmas special would be axed until 2021 as filming would be ‘too hard’ amid the coronavirus pandemic, even though stars were said to have been booked for the show.
Put on hold: It was also reported by The Daily Star that the show’s Christmas special would be axed until 2021 as filming would be ‘too hard’ (pictured Debbie McGee and Kevin Clifton)
A source speaking to the publication claimed: ‘Usually, filming the Christmas special only takes a few days.
‘But to do it under the current guidelines would mean quarantining celebs for two weeks beforehand. It’s just not worth it for one episode.
‘It wasn’t an easy decision, but producers didn’t feel like they had any choice.’
Claim: Even though stars were said to have been booked, a source claimed it ‘wasn’t worth’ quarantining them for two weeks to film the special (pictured Richard Arnold and Luba Mushtuk)
Johannes danced with Graziano Di Prima last year in a professionals dance on the show, alongside Aljaž Škorjanec, 29, Luba Mushtuk, 29, as Emeli Sande belted out her latest single.
According to the BBC the dance led to the most complaints they received at the time, as 189 viewers protested to the routine.
However, the channel rightly embraced its LGBTQ+ audience, as they said in a statement: ‘Strictly Come Dancing is an inclusive show and is proud to have been able to facilitate the dance between Johannes and Graziano during the Professionals’ dance.
‘They are dancers first and foremost, and their sex had no bearing on their routine.’
Supporting the LGBTQ+ audience: Johannes danced with Graziano last year in a professionals dance on the show alongside Aljaž Škorjanec and Luba Mushtuk
Following the dance, Johannes admitted he felt ‘liberated’ and honoured to perform with his best friend in the show’s first all-male routine as he told Hello! Magazine that it made him feel truly ‘accepted’.
Of the groundbreaking routine, he said: ‘I’ve never felt so liberated. For the first time in my life, I feel accepted for who I am.
‘That says so much about the people of this country. To be able to dance with a friend I respect and adore is joyous.
‘There’s bromance galore between us, but there were no male and female roles, just free movement. It was beautiful, classy and elegant.’
Delighted: Following the dance, Johannes admitted he felt ‘liberated’ and honoured to perform with his best friend in the show’s first all-male routine