Strictly pro Neil Jones’ baby daughter was nearly named after his BBC co-star

Professional dancer Neil Jones nearly named his newborn daughter after his Strictly Come Dancing 2022 co-star Molly Rainford’s TV persona, his partner Chyna Mills has revealed.

The 41-year-old BBC star ended up choosing Havana for their little girl, who is just over one month old – but Nova was a close second choice, in honour of the science fiction character Molly plays on CBBC.

Nova Jones is a series focusing on the adventures of an intergalactic pop star taking a concert tour through the galaxy in the year 9009 – and, as Molly stars as the lead character, it was only natural that pal Neil considered it as a name for his daughter.

Chyna broke the news during an Instagram Q&A this afternoon, when a fan asked: “What were some of your fav baby name choices if you didn’t choose Havana?”

“She was going to be Nova Jones just like her auntie @mollyrainford,” the proud mum responded, before adding: “Havana and Nova were our only two options!”

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Neil is thought to be friendly with the other Strictly cast members, and was previously married to fellow pro Katya Jones.

Meanwhile, Molly has found love with fellow Strictly 2022 competitor Tyler West, who was paired with Dianne Buswell on the BBC show.

Neil recently explained that Cuban capital Havana has a connection with his passion for dance too, making it the ideal choice for a baby name.

“Cuba is the home of dance and very multicultural so it was perfect; it sums us up,” he told Hello! magazine.

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Beaming 24-year-old Chyna, who was previously a reality star on Love Island, exclaimed that their little girl is already proving herself to have “dancers’ feet” and is bringing them much joy.

Speaking of her future career options, Neil gushed that it would be “amazing” if little Havana wants to be a dancer when she grows up – but he won’t be pressurising her.

“She can be whatever she wants to be,” he explained, before warning: “She has to be a Liverpool supporter [though] – that’s non-negotiable! She’s got a little football kit already!”

Meanwhile, Neil and Chyna, who got engaged among the rice terraces of paradise island Bali in Indonesia, now have their hearts set on finding the perfect wedding venue.

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Chyna has explained she’s taking charge of wedding planning, although Neil insists that she has to pick a date before September, “unless you want our wedding to be a group dance on Strictly!”

Neil has been busy with the show – after opting to mix fatherhood with TV stardom – and recent highlights have included a dance to Rick Astley’s latest tune with fellow pro Jowita Przystal during Halloween Week.

Jowita won the Glitterball trophy in 2022 with her celeb partner Hamza Yassin.

Meanwhile, over on Instagram and TikTok, Neil and his former tutor, head judge Shirley Ballas, recently treated the world to a video of the pair dancing together, to the delight of almost 17,000 fans.

Shirley exclaimed: “First taught this young man aged 9 years old. Who knew we’d be tiktoking this many years later?”

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