As Tess Daly returns to her ‘gruelling’ TV schedule, husband Vernon is left picking up the pieces at home
For Tess Daly, the start of Strictly Come Dancing is a joyful time as she returns to the job she loves – broadcasting to over 14 million people.
But for her husband Vernon Kay, it marks the start of a much more testing period as Tess’ ‘gruelling’ schedule puts their previously rocky marriage under strain. With Tess, 49, working around the clock on the BBC show, it’s over to Vernon, 44, to hold down the fort at home and play mum and dad to their two daughters, Phoebe, 13, and Amber, nine.
And Woman understands that for Vernon – whose workload has all but dried up since he was named in a ‘sexting’ scandal with glamour model Rhian Sugden – it’s a bitter pill to swallow. ‘No man finds it easy accepting their wife is now the main breadwinner,’ explains our well-placed source. ‘He’s gone from high-profile presenter to doing the dishes and school run – and biting his tongue puts a strain on their marriage.’
So, with Tess’ star burning bright, how long before the cracks begin to show?
Tables have turned
As Strictly rolls around again, Vernon knows it’s time to step up and support his wife. ‘Tess is the first to admit that when Strictly starts her marriage gets left at the stage door and Vernon understands that,’ says our source. ‘It’s taken him some time to get used to, but he knows that Tess appreciates him holding the fort during the madness of Strictly and feels it’s the least he can do.’
And for Vernon, it’s like their home life has totally been flipped. ‘The fact that Tess gets home from work and Vernon has the dinner on the table – it’s like they’re finally getting back to where they once were, but the roles have been reversed.’
According to our insider, Vernon sees his role as house husband as a temporary one. While he’s happy to pick up the load while Tess brings home a staggering £350,000 for presenting the BBC spectacular, he doesn’t like to tell too many people about it.
‘Vernon says he enjoys the change of pace, as Strictly gives him time to bond with his two daughters,’ adds our insider. ‘But he doesn’t like being called the “man of the house”. He much prefers to be seen as Super Dad DJ Kay.’
Desperate to make it work
Tess was ‘shattered’ when it emerged Vernon was found to be sexting glamour model Rhian Sugden in 2010. He went on to apologise on national radio, branding himself ‘foolish’ and ‘stupid’.
Our source says he is still working to put things right, revealing, ‘Vernon has been putting in serious legwork in recent years and even makes Tess a cup of “love tea” every morning. They say you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone – and it seems it took nearly losing Tess for Vernon to realise how lucky he is. He knows she wears the trousers and even jokes that he loves being a kept man, as long as it’s not in the doghouse.’
Reliving the past
It seems every time the couple try and move on from the scandal that rocked their marriage, it gets dragged back up again. In 2016, Vernon was accused of reconnecting with Rhian but he insisted the messages had been taken ‘out of context’ and Tess forgave him.
More recently, Rhian wrote an open letter to Tess, offering her a grovelling apology – and our source says it dragged it all back up for her once again.
‘Tess needs to feel she’s in control of her marriage and the constant outbursts make her feel uneasy,’ explains our insider. ‘She is only human and although the marriage is on the road to repair, Tess might never be.’
As the couple prepare to celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary in September, the mum-of-two has ‘accepted that things will never be the way they once were, no matter how much counselling, talking or trust building they do,’ says our source. ‘All they can do is continue to move forward, and work helps Tess do that.’