Emma Thynn, Viscountess Weymouth, spent last Sunday on the sofa sobbing, ‘heartbroken’ to be the latest celebrity sent packing from Strictly Come Dancing.
‘I’m very hard on myself so I keep reliving every moment of that last dance,’ she says.
‘I torture myself about every step, every mistake. I did Strictly with my whole heart, my whole soul. I genuinely put everything into it. To be part of it is so amazing. It’s…’ Her bottom lip trembles.
Emma Thynn, Viscountess Weymouth (pictured at her home at Longleat), said that her time on Strictly Come Dancing took an immense physical and emotional toll
‘I did it with so much honesty. It’s so exposing.’ Then tears overwhelm her.
‘I’m not a nutcase,’ she weeps. ‘I know it’s only a TV show, a competition, and that once a week someone has to go home. The sad part is thinking about the dances we [she and partner Aljaz Skorjanec] would have danced but can’t now. I wish I had one more chance. I really do.
‘Aljaz had an amazing quickstep planned and a paso doble. Strictly is a bubble — a magical bubble — to fall out of it so quickly, so abruptly is…’ she searches for the right word and settles upon ‘sad’.
Many of us who watched last week’s results show — recorded on Saturday but broadcast on Sunday — might well add downright unfair.
For the judges’ decision to save pigeon-toed BBC sports presenter Mike Bushell from the chop for a third time in the dance-off was, well, let’s just say you wonder if some daft bloke on the Sunday night shift put in the wrong tape.
Emma and dancer partner and Aljaz Skorjanec were left ‘heartbroken’ after becoming the latest pair to leave the show in a controversial exit
Social media was flooded with comments branding the show a fix. What does Emma, who was tasked with dancing the ‘dreaded’ samba, think?
‘I knew it was a challenging dance to begin with. Everybody dreads it. The other dancers were looking at us as if to say, “poor you”. I realise they [the show organisers] have to make sure there’s a variety of dances but to go out on the samba was…’ She shakes her head.
‘You have to respect the judges’ decision. I can’t change it. I gave it my best shot. Motsi [judge Motsi Mabuse] came to talk to me afterwards. She gave me a hug. I went back to my dressing room and cried.
‘Aljaz and [his wife and fellow professional dancer] Janette came up. My mum and sister, Sam, were there too. We had a drink.’ She looks up through her tears.
‘You know, the saddest thing was when Aljaz bowed to me after the judges’ decision. That’s what he did on the very first show.
‘It isn’t just the dancing. It’s an emotional and psychological experience. You can’t really describe it — the focus, the dedication. It really is all-consuming. I loved every second of it. I was heartbroken after the results show.’
This weekend her husband of six years, the future eighth Marquess of Bath, Ceawlin, Viscount Weymouth, is taking her away to cheer her up after her shock departure
Emma learned in April that she was going to be on the show and was ‘thrilled’. She said she has since been touched by the overwhelming support from fans since her exit
She shows me her phone, clearly touched by the support she has received since.
‘One mother sent me a video of her daughter crying. Here, look at these tweets. I have about 1,000 messages — properly genuine messages from people who care.’
This weekend her husband of six years, the future eighth Marquess of Bath, Ceawlin, Viscount Weymouth, is taking her away to cheer her up. He introduces himself after I arrive and you know he’d move heaven and earth to make her happy. Emma tells me how supportive he has been.
We meet in the Weymouths’ apartment on the first floor of Longleat, one of the most spectacular stately homes in the country.
The couple work hard to ensure the 10,000-acre estate in Wiltshire turns a profit. With its famous safari park, it first opened its doors to the public 70 years ago. The publicity generated by Strictly no doubt helps.
Emma learned in April she was going to be on the show and was ‘thrilled’.
‘It was so difficult,’ she says. ‘I’ve never danced before. You’re doing something that’s out of your comfort zone. As the show goes on, everyone’s exhausted. There’s no time to recover. A bone in my foot dropped out of place from the jive. I got this pain from here to here.’
Every year Strictly seems to find itself at the heart of a Twitter storm, with many arguing that it’s often celebrities of colour who leave the competition earliest but Emma has refused to be drawn in. Pictured: Aljaz and Emma during a previous dress rehearsal
She takes off a black pump and points from beneath her foot to above her ankle. ‘That was agony. And, last week, doing the samba, I pulled a rib muscle.
‘I had some sort of inflammation here,’ she holds her ribs ‘and the most terrible stomach ache.
‘I couldn’t eat all day before what turned out to be our last dance but, obviously, you have to go and perform. Of course, this is nothing compared to what happened to poor Will [Bayley, the Paralympian who had to withdraw after injuring his knee].
‘My heart really went out to him. The part [in the results show] when you’re waiting to hear whether or not you’re going to be doing the next week is genuinely frightening. You just hope you’re going to get through. I was shaking. It’s an out-of-body experience.’ Sadly for Emma, last week it was not to be.
Every year Strictly seems to find itself at the heart of a Twitter storm, with many arguing that it’s often celebrities of colour who leave the competition earliest.
The Viscountess Weymouth says that she has experienced racism closer to home, however, from her mother-in-law
Emma, the 33-year-old daughter of an English socialite and a Nigerian oil baron, who will be Britain’s first black marchioness when Ceawlin inherits, won’t be drawn. She has, however, experienced racism closer to home with her mother-in-law.
They are a famously unconventional family and there is not uncomplicated harmony between the generations. Her 87-year-old father-in-law, Alexander, the Marquess of Bath, lives on the top floor of the house with his erotic murals and visiting ‘wifelets’ to keep him happy.
Yet despite living in the same building, the Marquess of Bath last saw his delightful grandchildren, John, five, and two-year-old Henry, in the summer when they bumped into him at the village fete.
As for Ceawlin’s mother, Lady Bath — a former soft-porn actress called Anna Gael who lives in France — she has never seen the boys and I surmise it’s unlikely she ever will. According to Ceawlin, she repeatedly voiced an opinion that marrying Emma would ruin ‘400 years of bloodline’.
Lady Bath has denied making the comment and has said she has ‘absolutely nothing against her daughter-in-law’.
Emma, who is the 33-year-old daughter of an English socialite and a Nigerian oil baron, will be Britain’s first black marchioness when Ceawlin inherits (pictured together)
‘My race was never talked about until I married into this family,’ Emma says.
‘I feel now, in every way, a square peg in a round hole because of everything that is said about me. I have two boys with Nigerian heritage and that’s the most important thing but race shouldn’t define you. You just have to have a thick skin.
‘Every family has its complications. I put my energy into the children now. I just hope they grow up in a world where race is not as remarkable as it is now.
‘I feel like having children — and the illness I had when I was pregnant — is probably more important than anything else to the person I am now. I’m massively aware of how we can take everything for granted — how fragile life is.’
Sad as she is by her premature Strictly exit, it’s put into perspective by her own life experiences. Emma, you see, was desperately ill during her pregnancy with John. She had a swelling and a bleed on her pituitary gland, a rare but potentially fatal condition. It began with a terrible headache in the third trimester of her pregnancy.
‘It got so bad I couldn’t move,’ she says. ‘I was in agony in bed, hardly breathing, the pain was so bad. They finally gave me an MRI scan and saw this bleeding on my brain. If I hadn’t been treated, I wouldn’t be here.
‘I was so worried about the baby. Ceawlin was sleeping in the hospital. You worry they’re not telling you the whole truth. He was asking them questions in the corridor to find out if they were being honest because it was really serious.’
She was given steroid injections to strengthen her unborn baby’s lungs and he was delivered by caesarean section three weeks early. She was nervous of everything after his birth.
She says: ‘It was the most fundamental moment in my life. It’s a bleed in the middle of your brain. You can go blind, die. It doesn’t get much worse than that.
‘I had a really bad headache in January. The worst I’ve had since it happened. I had an MRI scan and they said they were happy but…’ A heavy silence follows and you understand the fear that Emma still lives with. Two years later she had her second son, biologically hers and Ceawlin’s but born by surrogacy, after doctors warned her she could die if she became pregnant again.
The Weymouths went to a clinic in California where they spent three months as Emma had IVF. ‘I always wanted to have a second baby. Henry is our DNA. I’m so grateful to the woman who carried him for us. Some women thrive and flourish when they’re pregnant. I didn’t.
‘When the embryos are five days old they grade them. The strongest embryos were boys so we had a boy. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger but I don’t know . . . You make the most of what ever life you have. No one’s life is perfect, even my life living at Longleat.’
Emma was, she says, a shy child who rarely saw her father Oladipo Jadesimi. She was brought up by her mother, Suzanna McQuiston, and half-sister Sam, a daughter from an earlier marriage, who wrapped her in love.
‘People looked at the three of us, two blondes and me, growing up in a house and didn’t know how we fitted together. But they provided me with the stability I need and I still have them, thank god. Maybe I feel responsible to them because they always worked so hard. My mother used to do interior decorating for other people, then she did the property ladder thing.
‘She grew her business and, as I grew, we always moved house — bought a house, did it up, sold it. They encouraged me to have the best life I could and gave everything to me.’
Emma is very generous-hearted. Her life, she says, has been a series of ‘sliding doors’. Her mother was well connected and she knew Ceawlin from the age of three when she was a bridesmaid at her half-brother’s marriage to Ceawlin’s half-aunt.
It was pure chance that they met as adults at a mutual friend’s birthday dinner. Emma had recently returned from LA where she’d tried her hand at acting. She says: ‘When we re-met as adults we were really excited to see each other. It hadn’t crossed my mind this would ever happen. I promise this is not what I thought I’d be doing.’
They went to a nightclub. Dinner followed and then a ‘spontaneous’ trip to Paris. He proposed 18 months later and her father gave her away at her 2013 wedding.
‘We’ve obviously been through it,’ she says. ‘The whole thing [with his mother] was difficult but we are a new family with beautiful children. That’s my focus.’
John, who attends a nearby primary school, had his fifth birthday when Emma was on Strictly. She raced back to Longleat on the Sunday where they celebrated with a pirate party.
‘Strictly was all-consuming but it wasn’t as if I’d left home to go and join the circus,’ she says. ‘We rehearsed in the village hall and, if I had to go to London, I’d read the boys a bedtime story, put them to bed and drive through the night.
‘I’d wake up each day excited about the training because you’re learning so much so quickly. Aljaz puts so much work into the concept and the music. We enjoyed training so much.
‘Aljaz will be my friend for ever and [his wife] Janette. I’m a good team player. I got on so well with everyone — the wardrobe girls, the hairdressers.
‘I did Strictly because, well, who wouldn’t? I’m sad because it’s over. It’s not about being sulky and having your toys taken off you. It’s just — look, it’s your life for nine weeks. I’ve only seen my mum, sister, the boys, Ceawlin and the Strictly team.
‘They become a sort of family, then, when it’s over, you have to leave your dressing room for the last time, pack up your stuff and go. It’s so abrupt.
‘I haven’t lost my marbles but I’m going to miss it massively. I’ll miss Aljaz. He was such an incredible teacher. I didn’t want to let him down so you think, ‘Oh if only this, if only that’ but I’m so grateful for the experience.
‘Ceawlin was looking after the boys at home when we recorded the results show. I spoke to him on the phone. He said time heals all wounds. I’ll be fine. But Strictly is more than the sum of its parts. It’s something you have to give yourself to in a way that’s hard to explain.
‘Now, to wake up without having to train, without your schedule, without your call sheet, is strange. I just wish I had one more chance to dance. I really do.’ Perhaps she will on the Strictly tour?
‘I’d love that. That would be…’ Perfect? She smiles a huge, dazzling smile and nods.