Laura Whitmore says speculation about her and 'Strictly Come Dancing' partner Giovanni Pernice has affected her performance.
The 31-year-old presenter has been paired with the hunky dancer on the reality TV show but Laura was so upset by reports linking her to Giovanni, 26 - who is her close pal Georgia May Foote's ex-boyfriend - that she hasn't been able to bond properly with him.
Speaking to You magazine, she said: "I do care what people think about me. My relationship with Giovanni is completely professional. That's all I ever want it to be. When all this happened he called me and told me not to let any of it get to me, to ignore it and get on with the show. To be honest he's far too young for me and even though I'm single I'm still going on a couple of dates when I have the time - but not with Giovanni.'
"It has definitely affected my dancing. I'm so self-conscious I haven't allowed myself to develop a proper partnership with Giovanni.
"He's aware of it and so am I but I keep holding back. We were the first out on the floor on the first show and I was so nervous I couldn't feel my legs. But I was fully aware I wasn't letting myself go because of all the rumours about us.
"The other day we were made [by the BBC producers] to go out and bond. We climbed over the O2 building and then had a drink and it was brilliant fun. I've got to ignore all the stories and just be myself with Giovanni, but it hasn't been easy."
Laura also admitted that Georgia did unfollow her on Instagram but says it is only because she didn't want to see pictures of her ex all the time.
She said: "Georgia - who is a good friend of mine - has been lovely but I felt things had been spoilt before I'd even got a chance to start.
"She did [unfollow]. But she's following me again now. It's complicated. I understand she doesn't want to see pictures of her ex. But everything gets blown out of all proportion."
However, despite the drama Laura is extremely competitive and determined to be a contender for the gillterball trophy.
She said: "I want to do whatever it takes. I got myself fully prepared. I asked everyone for advice. Brendan Cole told me to get every foot lotion and to put on blister cream before the blisters start - so I walked into Boots and bought everything on the shelf."
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