Strictly Come Dancing stars Ellie Leach and Vito Coppola have fuelled romance rumours since the very beginning.
The dancing duo performed for the final time in 2023 on Saturday night (December 16) and were crowned winners of the entire series, beating Bobby Brazier and Layton Williams. Over the past three months, Ellie and Vito have heaped praise on each other, with the former Corrie actress revealing her partner has made her feel more sexy.
Vito, 31, regularly calls Ellie, 22, his "baby", while Amanda Abbington referred to the pair as a "beautiful couple" on social media. With their sizzling chemistry on and off the dancefloor, fans are convinced the two are dating in real life.
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Here, Daily Star has looked at all the moments that suggest their partnership has developed into something more, from heartfelt declarations to their on-screen "kiss".
Back in October, the romance rumours started as Vito affectionately dubbed Ellie "my baby". As Strictly had officially kicked off, Vito shared a photo of himself and Ellie dancing alongside the caption: "Thanks to my Lulú, my baby. You are making me so proud. Every day I discover a new part of you…Thank you for allowing me to see it.’
Ellie thanked him for allowing her to be "100% herself" and recognised the hard work he put into their routines. She added: "I’m so lucky that you are my partner, I am at my happiest when dancing on that dance floor with you."
Just a day after his gushing post, Vito shared a video thanking everyone for their support and marking his anniversary of moving to the UK. He couldn't resist addressing Ellie in his post, writing: "To you my Lulú.. I am so proud of you and you know How much I believe in you so just keep going and keep working hard as you are already doing every day.
"You are doing great baby Have a good rest tonight and make sure you eat properly. See you tomorrow for another beautiful day together." Ellie responded: "love you love you love you,’ followed by several heart emojis.
Amanda Abbington, who abruptly quit the show, appeared to confirm Ellie and Vito's romance. On November 5 Ellie took to her Instagram to share a photo of her and Vito performing. She captioned the photo: "Thank you, thank you, thank you. What a magical night, we are so grateful for all of your support and we’re soooo happy to be through to another week on that Strictly dancefloor."
It didn’t take long for Ellie’s showbiz pals to rush to the comments section to gush over the pair. The Sherlock actress wrote: "Stunning. So proud of the both of you, adding: "You are the most beautiful couple!"
Just a few days later, Ellie and Vito appeared on It Takes Two alongside presenter Fleur East. Asked what they think about each other, neither held back on the gushing tribute.
Opening up on the joy of teaching Ellie how to dance, the Italian star said: "What I love most about teaching Ellie is the fact that she's become stronger and stronger each week. Now she's improving her resilience."
The former soap star admitted she would be "completely lost" without Vito. She gushed: "I don't even want to think about taking to the dance floor without Vito. I would be completely lost. It would be my worst nightmare."
During week 10 in later November, Ellie and Vito set tongues wagging as they got hot and steamy on the dance floor. Performing the Argentine Tango to Destiny's Child's Bills Bills Bills, the couple put on a spellbinding display that ended in a near kiss.
As their performance came to an end, fans headed straight over to X, formerly known as Twitter, to share their thoughts. One stunned viewer said: "Ellie and Vito totally nearly kissed on national TV." Another said: "Thought they kissed there." While a third asked: "Was that a real kiss?!"
Sparking fresh rumours just days after almost locking lips, Vito shared a sweet post saying how proud he was of his celeb partner and the woman she is "becoming". Opening up on the "intense week" they’d had, Vito captioned the post: "We enjoyed so much! It was different from the usual Argentine tango in different ways.. Lulú was the strong and independent woman who is in control.
"This journey is becoming more special every week. Through the dances and playing different characters we are able to discover many different sides of us, and I personally think that that’s what life is, a journey to get to know ourselves better.” He went on: “I am so so proud of you @ellielouiseleach and the woman you are becoming. Weeks ago I met a girl, and now look at you and I am sure that you still have much more to show and much more to say Lulú."
“Everyone is proud of you but mostly you have to be proud of yourself, because you and only you know all the sacrifices and the commitment needed to perform in that way, for someone who has never danced before. Brava Lulú keep going and let’s keep danciiiiing.” Ellie then replied: Thank you for being you @vitocoppola. I’m so proud of our journey so far and I can’t wait to continue dancing with you!!!!!!”
Earlier this month, Vito looked overwhelmed as Ellie thanked him for changing her life. She spoke out as the duo made it through to the final of the ballroom contest, telling Vito she couldn't have done it without him.
"Thank you so much for being the best partner, the best friend, always making me laugh, always picking me up when I feel down, always pushing me to put all that hard work in," she said as she looked into his eyes. Vito kept opening his mouth in surprise as Ellie spoke, and when she finished her touching speech he looked tearful as he clapped one hand over his mouth.
On December 10, Ellie admitted Vito has made her believe in herself for the first time. The actress told how spending every day training with the Italian professional had been a life-changer. She said: “I didn’t realise how much of a personal journey I would go on throughout Strictly.
I’m so much more confident in myself now. I’m starting to really believe in myself, not just in dancing but in life. I feel like I’ve actually matured a lot and have got a different outlook on life now, which is really incredible.” And Ellie, who starred as Faye Windass from 2011 to 2023, has felt sexy for the first time. She said: “It’s something that really surprised me. I didn’t realise I had it in me.”
Thanking Vito, she went on: “I was scared before, but Vito believing in me and in my ability has given me confidence. Now I will throw myself into it, because if Vito trusts me then I’ll just do it. We have danced together pretty much every day for three months so I am really going to miss him."
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