Strictly Come Dancing pro Anya Garnis has denounced claims that Rachel Riley’s marriage broke down after she became close friends with dance partner Pasha Kovalev.

Reports have suggested that the pair grew increasingly close during their time on the show, just weeks before Rachel split from husband Jamie Gilbert  whom she married just 16 months ago.

However Anya – who previously dated Pasha for three years – insisted: “It’s absolutely not what has happened here. That’s not true.”

A show source backed up her comments, saying the split “has nothing to do with Pasha”, and added: “The first he knew about it was when he read it in the papers.”

The insider added: “Rachel was working so hard when she was in the competition she didn’t see her husband very much. That’s sure to have put a strain on her relationship.”

Meanwhile fellow contestant Patrick Robinson, who is partnering Anya in her first year on the show, said he was “not surprised” that taking part in the show had an effect on couples’ love lives.

“I would say the show puts a lot of pressure on couples because ultimately when you are dancing in close physical proximity every day you are touching constantly,” the Casualty star explained.

“That can take it’s toll. You get a relationship with your partner and sometimes if you get on really well it can spill over.”

He added: “I’m not surprised relationships can flourish, in terms of a partnership, or crash when someone suddenly goes off the other person.”

Strictly has been no stranger to romance over the years, with notably loved-up celebrities including 2010 winner Kara Tointon, who is in a relationship with Artem Chigvintsev, and Kristina Rihanoff, who dated 2008 partner Joe Calzaghe for four years.

The show’s pro dancer Flavia Cacace also dated 2007 runner-up Matt Di Angelo – splitting from fellow dancer Vincent Simone as a result – and is currently engaged to her 2010 partner Jimi Mistry.