Strictly’s Johannes Radebe says dancing with another man brought him closer to his mother

Johannes Radebe and John Whaite

Strictly Come Dancing’s Johannes Radebe has opened up about his mother’s reaction to his dance pairing with Great British Bake Off star John Whaite.

Johannes Radebe and John Whaite made history this year as Strictly’s first ever all-male partnership, and again as the first same-sex pairing to make it to the final.

Although they didn’t manage to take home the Glitterball trophy – coming runner-up to Rose Ayling-Ellis, the show’s first deaf contestant, and her partner Giovanni Pernice – Johannes explained why this was not such a great loss.

“My mum’s relationship with me has improved, and it has improved because of this partnership,” Radebe told Rylan Clark.

“I’ve won because my mum follows my journey with John religiously which is something that hasn’t happened in I don’t know how long.

“If anything, that for me is the biggest takeaway from this partnership.”

The South African dancer has been a part of Strictly since 2018. He explained that initially, his mother’s reaction to the news that he had been paired with another man was hesitant.

“When I told her about the partnership, she said: ‘Oh, you’re dancing with a man,’ and I said: ‘Yes mummy, I’m dancing with a man and his name is John,’ and there was this awkward silence,” he recounted.

“But I think like everybody else, she wanted to wait to see how it would play out because she’s such a traditionalist. I remember our first Tango she called me, and she was like: ‘Well, that was brilliant.'”

Johannes Radebe has previously opened up about his close relationship with his mother, Jacobeth. He looked to her strength after losing his father when he was 12, and she encouraged him to chase his dreams.

“We struggled financially but whatever we lacked she made up for with love,” he told Hello! in 2020.

“I learned that as long as you have a hot meal, a bed and roof over your head, you should be grateful.

“Above all, Mum taught me how to love and for the people around you to feel loved. I respect and applaud her. She has done a phenomenal job and she’s unique; my best friend.”

Radebe’s mother also opened up about the torment her son was subjected to by homophobic bullies, who mocked his sexuality and love for dance as he was growing up.

“I couldn’t fight the world for my son but I made sure he was loved and that he treated everyone with respect and kindness,” she told the magazine.

“Where are those bullies now who were mocking the very thing that launched him into his destiny? I’m immensely proud and happy for him. When I watch him dance it feels surreal. What blows my mind is that it’s real and he’s my son.”