Karim Zeroual has been a firm fan favourite on Strictly Come Dancing ever since he topped the leaderboard in week two with partner Amy Dowden. But while the CBBC star is the talk of the dance floor, his private life remains relatively low-key. It has been revealed, however, that the 19-year-old is in a relationship with Manchester University student Poppy Birtwistle. The couple have been dating for three years, but have so far managed to keep their romance out of the spotlight. Poppy's Instagram features a number of photos of Karim – including one showing her backstage at Elstree Studios, where Strictly is filmed.
Karim Zeroual has been dating Poppy Birtwistle for three years
On 22 September, Poppy shared a number of photos following the very first live Strictly show, including a snapshot of her posing with Karim's dance partner Amy, and another showing her and Karim with Amy and her fiancé Ben Jones. Alongside the images, Poppy wrote: "I could literally burst with pride." She returned to Instagram again on 30 September, following Karim's second Strictly appearance, uploading a black-and-white selfie taken with Australian drag queen Courtney Act. "Celebrating my boy being at the top of the leader board with the one and only! @courtneyact ‘bbcstrictly #strictlycomedancing," Poppy captioned the snapshot.
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The couple pictured with Karim's dance partner Amy Dowden and her fiancé
In August, the couple celebrated their anniversary together, with Poppy sharing a sweet tribute to her boyfriend. Alongside a photo of the couple together, she wrote: "Chapter 3. Happy anniversary" along with a black love heart. In response, Karim wrote: "Happy anniversary bubba! Love you to pieces forever and always."
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The couple sent sweet anniversary messages to each other in August
Karim is currently one of the favourites to lift the Glitterball trophy, alongside Emmerdale actor Kelvin Fletcher and Michelle Visage. The talented TV star is best known for his appearances on CBBC, but has also starred in a number of West End productions, including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Lion King. His small screen credits include kids' drama The Sparticle Mystery, which ran on the BBC from 2011 until 2015, Wimbledon Live and BBC's Young Dancer. Most recently, he filmed a brand new travel and sport documentary for CBBC called A Week to Beat the World, in which he takes three British children to countries like Guatemala, Brazil and Japan to play the national sports and see if they can beat the locals at their own game.
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Karim is currently one of the favourites to win Strictly
Speaking ahead of his appearance on Strictly, Karim said: "To be offered the chance to take part in Strictly is dumbfounding, I'm pinching myself. I'm so excited to be Strictlified. I want THE LOT. The skimpiest of clothes, the widest of flares, the brightest of colours and the tallest Cuban heels a guy can find. The more flamboyant, the better… sequins galore please!"
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