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Kell No Cathy Kelly says there's no chance of romance with Dancing With The Stars partner

'I'm 55, Maurizio is 31. He has a stunning 22-year-old Russian girlfriend and I'm more like his mammy on the show!'


Cathy is afraid she’ll injure Maurizio with high kicks in her heels

Cathy is afraid she’ll injure Maurizio with high kicks in her heels

Cathy is afraid she’ll injure Maurizio with high kicks in her heels

Newly single Cathy Kelly insists there’s no chance of any romance with her young partner on Dancing With The Stars and says: “I’m no cougar!”

Cathy (55) recently revealed the shock news that she had split from her husband, John Sheehan, who is the father of their 18-year-old twin sons.

But the best-selling author says she is more like 31-year old Italian Maurizio Benenato’s “mammy” on the hit show.

“There is no chance of any romance, she confirms with a laugh. “I’m 55, Maurizio is 31. He has a 22-year-old Russian girlfriend – OK, just get that out there now – called Michelle who I think is coming this weekend and I can’t wait to meet her.

“Believe me, it is strictly a professional relationship. He is very funny, he is very Italian. Sometimes he will say ‘why did you do that’ and I’d go ‘because I can’t dance, that’s why I did that!’”


Cathy with Maurizio on the show

Cathy with Maurizio on the show

Cathy with Maurizio on the show

Cathy adds: “I think we can safely say I’m not a cougar, can we just get that in writing, I’m not a cougar! Dear Lord, I could be his mother. Let’s just leave it there. But he’s a sweetheart.”

She reveals she has seen pictures of Michelle and says Maurizio is a lucky man to have her.

“Maurizio’s girlfriend is perfectly safe with me,” she playfully reiterates. “He had a small health issue this morning and I was on the phone trying to sort it out. So I’m playing his mother, I’m a total mammy. So, we have an Irish mammy doing the tango with him.

“I have seen pictures of her and she is exquisite, and he talks about her all the time and I can’t wait to see her. All the dancers are amazing, have you seen how beautiful they are? They are lovely people and fabulous.”

Cathy began dating estranged husband John in the 1990s and the former record label boss is 20 years older than her.

“I have made a statement, this is what I will say and as much as I will ever say,” she explains.

“It’s been over a year and four months since we split up. We have both moved on. We have time to come to terms with it. It’s obviously incredibly sad to split with someone you have been with for so long, but life can be sad.

“We have two wonderful sons together and they are our main priority.”

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Former Sunday World journalist Cathy lives in a Co Wicklow mansion with sons Murray and Dylan.

“They are doing their Leaving. They are very calm, they are sort of a bit like me — they are academic and they like their books,” she reveals. “So, they’re not out in the back garden kicking a ball around.

“It was very difficult for all kids during lockdowns. We were lucky in that we had space. They could go into a room and be on their own and put their headphones and do their classes together. They were brilliant. It has been very hard on kids in general.”

Dancing With The Stars has taken up most of her time.

“I’m focusing on the dancing at the moment, it’s very hard to do anything else,” she admits. “I’ve been going through the training schedule for next week and realised ‘oh my God I have to get my hair dyed’.

“I’ve been trying to get a plumber in to look at a drain near my sink, I have to get my hair dyed, go to the supermarket, and between that and learning the tango, there’s no time for anything else, really.”

She and Maurizio got two fives and a four from the judges for their Cha Cha last Sunday and are now practising a tango.

“I have a couple of leg flicks in this. Every time I do it I think, ‘Jesus, I’m going to kill Maurizio, I’m going to rip his leg off’, because those high heels, they are weapons,” she says.

“The tango is a bit of craic. I’m the oldest lady contestant but I don’t feel it. I still feel about 25.”

During her time with the Sunday World Cathy worked as a features writer and also as film critic and agony aunt until leaving in 2001.


Cathy with John

Cathy with John

Cathy with John

The writer, whose 22nd novel, The Wedding Party comes out in July, has always been fitness conscious.

“I used to cycle to college. When I worked in the Sunday World I went to a gym in Terenure. Then when I began working for myself I used to go to another gym. There was a brief period when I had a trainer. So I have been doing some sort of working out all my life.”

Her fitness regimen certainly came in handy for Dancing With The Stars. The hit show, however, has again been struck by Covid with Jennifer Zamparelli pulling out of tonight’s show after testing positive with the virus.

Lottie Ryan (36) has stepped in to replace Jennifer and will co-host the show with Nicky Byrne.

“Jen will return to her 2FM radio show late next week, broadcasting from home,” confirmed a RTÉ spokesperson.

Tonight’s show will see all 12 celebrity dancers compete for the first time; one will be eliminated.

This will be Lottie Ryan’s first major primetime TV presenting role. The daughter of Gerry Ryan won the show’s fourth series of in 2020, the last time it previously aired before being cancelled last year due to Covid restrictions.

Dancing With The Stars is on RTÉ One tonight at 6.30pm.

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