This time 10 years ago, you couldn’t turn your TV on without seeing Louie Spence.
From Loose Women and Benidorm to Harry Hill’s TV Burp, Celebrity Juice, Shooting Stars and Chris Moyles’ Quiz Night, the professional dancer was the star of the moment.
But after a series of professional set-backs in the early 2010s, the hilarious Essex-born star all but disappeared, resurfacing for the occasional reality appearance in Celebrity Big Brother, The Jump, Celebs on the Farm and Celebrity Coach Trip – which he mysteriously walked out of last January.
So what happened to Louie? The Mirror takes a look at the 51 year old’s fascinating life…
Friends in high places
As a trained dancer, Louie had toured with the likes of the Spice Girls, Kylie Minogue and Take That before getting his big TV break.
He counted Spice Girl Victoria Beckham among his close friends and was a regular for dinner at Beckingham Palace, insisting that Posh and Becks were as normal as they come.
“Victoria’s a really, really down-to-earth girl, with a wicked sense of humour,” he once told the Daily Record.
“Because Victoria isn’t any different to me or you to chat to, you don’t really realise how hugely famous they have become. To have dinner together is very similar to having dinner with anyone else – they’re very normal people.”
Louie’s first TV foray came as a judge and mentor on Trouble TV’s Bump’n’Grind, followed by Sky One’s Cirque de Celebrite and NBC’s Celebrity Circus.
Aged 31, he turned his back on dancing to work as a receptionist at London’s Pineapple Studios, fearing he would look like a ‘sad old dancer’.
“I thought to myself, I cant dance behind people like The Saturdays, these 19-year-old girls,” he told the Daily Record.
“I don’t want to be some tired old dancer who people look at and say, ‘Oh, God, is he still trying to knock it out?’ So I made a decision.
“Thats when I started at Pineapple Dance Studios, when the job on offer was as a receptionist. I had to make a choice. My career was over as a dancer and I accepted that you’ve got to survive living in London.”
And it was Sky docu-soap Pineapple Dance Studios that catapulted him to global stardom in 2010.
A run of bad luck
Audiences couldn’t get enough of Louie and even though Pineapple Studios only ran for one season, Sky gave him his own series, Louie Spence’s Showbusiness.
Sadly it was cancelled after just one series and that same year he shot another show for Oprah Winfrey titled Louie Spence’s Dance Project, but that never aired.
A concerned Louie admitted he couldn’t see middle America ‘getting me or the show’.
And a spokesman for the star said at the time: “Since Louie recorded his series for the US, there have been some staff changes at the station.
“Executives have moved on and new people have come on board.
“At the moment we don’t know when they plan to show it.”
Things started to look up in December 2011 when he was unveiled as the new judge on ITV’s Dancing On Ice, replacing acerbic regular Jason Gardiner.
That, too, only lasted for one series before he was ‘kicked to the kerb’ and Jason was brought back.
Louie told ITV’s This Morning: “What can I say? I thought I was pretty fabulous myself but, no, I’ve been kicked to the kerb. That’s showbusiness. One day you’re in, one day you’re out. Dancing On Ice always change up their panel.
“I think it’s a great idea because then they’ve always got different opinions. If you watch some of these shows, judges always repeat the same things year in, year out. I think having the change up is great.”
And despite his huge level of fame, Louie honestly admitted that he hadn’t even earned enough to buy a fancy car or a house, revealing he was still living in his Housing Association flat.
“There’s a big myth that just because you’re on TV, you’re mega-rich. You see things sometimes about multi-million pound deals but I can tell you those figures are a pile of c**p,” he said.
“You get to go to wonderful places and you get invited to great things but I’m not in any position at the moment to be able to go out and buy myself a house or drive a Range Rover.
“If that changes, I’ll be the first to go out and spend.”
The year 2012 proved to be devastating on many levels, with Louie paralysed by crippling anxiety following the death of his beloved mum Pat.
He told how the disorder could leave him house-bound for up to six weeks at a time and described how he hit ‘rock bottom’.
“I was so consumed with grief. I lost the person I was – it just went. I was heartbroken and in a very weird, strange place,” he told ITV’s Lorraine.
“I’ve suffered with physical anxiety all my life – panic attacks and palpitations. I’ve turned down loads of work because of it over the years.
“I remember having panic attacks on live TV when I was on Dancing on Ice. They’d come to me for comment and I’d be thinking, ‘I’m going to pass out.'”
Admitting that anxiety had ‘controlled every moment of my life,’ he finally agreed to take medication at his doctor’s urging.
Louie married partner Leto Fernandez in 2009 and the pair are believed to still be going strong.
They were introduced in 2001 by Jason Gardiner – who is Louie’s good friend – and Leto popped the question seven years later with a poem he’d written.
“We met in a club and it was Jason’s fault,” he once told The Mirror. “I say that, but it was the best thing that’s happened to me.”
For Leto’s part, fame is something he has always avoided like the plague.
“My husband doesn’t care for this lifestyle, he hates the glamour,” Louie continued.
“He will never come to an event with me. He’s fiercely private. I’m not even allowed to mention his name.”
Before the pandemic, the star had a national tour of dance master classes scheduled but was forced to postpone them due to Covid.
He is a panto favourite, starring in Cinderella in Aberdeen in 2019 and earlier this week jetted off to Benidorm in Spain where he plans to work behind a friend’s karaoke bar.
“I knew it wouldn’t be long till I was snapped up as the best barmen of Benidorm,” he wrote on Instagram of his new gig at Mateo’s bar.
“Happy new year to you all, hope you have an amazing day/night tonight whatever you may be doing.”
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