Nigel Harman: ‘Being called a sex symbol is flattering – but bizarre’

Strictly's Nigel opens up about his newly-toned body and how his wife is helping him cope with gruelling training sessions

nigel harman katya jones

by Closer staff |
Updated on

He was branded “sex on legs” by Strictly Come Dancing viewers, while judge Motsi Mabuse made comparisons to Dirty Dancing actor Patrick Swayze, but Nigel Harman admits he finds it strange to be considered a sex symbol.

Nigel, 50, exclusively tells Closer, “When you get to my age, it is kind of flattering, but it’s also kind of bizarre. It’s lovely that people take the time to post comments online like that and it’s much better than them forming groups to say how rubbish I am, but I try not to think about it too much because I don’t know how to react to it.”

eastenders sharon phil dennis
on eastenders in 2005 ©BBC

Fans have also taken to social media to comment that the actor appears to be ageing backwards, joking that Nigel looks the same as he did 20 years ago, when he first rose to fame as Dennis Rickman on EastEnders in 2003. Nigel acknowledges that his intense training schedule has helped.

He says, “I’ve definitely got fitter – I’m stronger. There are muscles in my body I didn’t even know I had. I’m loving that side of it, but unfortunately the downside is that it all aches. It may look a bit more toned, but it’s all just aching. In a way, I quite like it as it reminds me of back in the day, in EastEnders, when I used to be quite fit. It’s sort of like a return to those days, except now I’ve got grey hair and can’t stay awake after 9.30pm!”

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he says partner katya is a great teacher ©BBC

Luckily, Nigel’s wife, actress Lucy Liemann – who he married in 2011 after reportedly meeting in 2006 on the set of BBC comedy drama Hotel Babylon – isn’t phased by Nigel’s newfound status and he shares that he’s incredibly grateful for her and their daughter’s support.

“They pop in on Wednesday after school and watch whatever we have to offer and provide support, which is really lovely,” Nigel explains.

nigel harman and his wife lucy liemann
With wife lucy ©Dan Wooller/Shutterstock

“Lucy is constantly saying, ‘You need to take magnesium, I’ve got arnica pills for you, here’s some ibuprofen’. She’s basically kitting me out with what I need to survive. Plus occasionally, if she’s making a packed lunch for my daughter, she’ll go, ‘Would you like me to make you one?’ so sometimes I have a packed lunch made for me. She’s just really been taking care of me – it’s really touching and really beautiful.”

Also supporting Nigel is his Strictly pro partner Katya Jones, 34 – who won the show in 2017 with her then-partner actor Joe McFadden.

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When asked about what kind of a teacher she is, Nigel says, “She’s really instinctive and intuitive. She’s got this kind of persona of being a harsh taskmaster, but I don’t find that at all.

“Katya’s also a really good choreographer, which helps – especially for someone like me – as there are stories involved and there are movements with a purpose. I kind of respond to that more than when it gets all technical.”

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