Strictly’s Neil Jones reveals ‘Chyna is a natural mum’

Strictly Come Dancing professional Neil Jones has been in a baby bubble ever since he and his fiancée, Love Island star Chyna Mills, welcomed daughter Havana in October. Now, the dancer says he couldn’t be more excited as he and Chyna gear up for their first Christmas as new parents.

“I’m so looking forward to Christmas as a dad – it’ll be different, but I love it,” he says. “I’ve always been family-oriented, so I’ll really enjoy it.”

But after a gruelling three months working on the latest series of Strictly, Neil – who chatted to us at Action For Children’s Starry Night Gala in London – says he’d love to jet off to sunnier climes when he finally gets a break from work.

“Our plans for Christmas aren’t sorted yet,” he says. “Normally, I go abroad because my thing is to finish Strictly and then go on the tour in the new year – so if I don’t go away in between, I don’t have time.

“Chyna and I haven’t decided where we’ll go, but I think it’s the best time to take Havana away when she’s this small. They say to start them young!”

Chyna and Neil, 41, went public with their romance in August 2022, with Neil getting down on one knee in April of this year. Gushing about his wife-to-be, Neil says the 25-year-old has taken to motherhood like a duck to water.

“Chyna has been brilliant,” he beams. “She’s such a natural mother and knows so much. If I’m ever not sure how we do something, she has the answers!”

Of course, with his gruelling Strictly schedule taking up so much of his life, Neil hasn’t had much downtime lately.

“Parenthood is tiring, but it’s exciting,” he laughs, as he admits to running on just “a few hours” of shut-eye. “I don’t get too much sleep – especially last night! Chyna had an early morning today, so I took the nighttime shift. But it’s worth every moment.”

As he opens up about life with little Havana, Neil is full of wide-eyed wonder. “When I’m feeding her, I’ll just look at her and think, ‘How did I create you?’” he says. “I look at Chyna and I think, ‘Yeah, she’s Chyna’s daughter, that makes sense. But this girl is too pretty to be my daughter!’”

In fact, the couple disagree on who has the stronger genes, with Neil admitting, “I think she looks like Chyna, but Chyna thinks she looks like me – so we don’t know! She’s only a couple of months old, so it’s hard to say.”

Despite his hectic workload on Strictly, Neil is very much a hands-on dad. “When it comes to fatherhood, I take it all on – I love it,” he says. “Chyna and I take turns, so we try to do 50/50 through the night. But if one of us has a long day or an early start, we switch and let the other one get some sleep.”

As the festivities approach, so does the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special – and Neil will be taking centre stage. As a result, his celebrity partner, Waterloo Road actress Tillie Amartey, and her family have already been getting to know baby Havana.

“Tillie’s mum came to babysit Havana the other day, so everyone is really helping out,” says Neil.

With standards sky-high on the main series of Strictly this year, Neil admits he “couldn’t call it” when it came to the final. The dancer, who joined the show in 2016, says, “The competition was so strong, it was so close. Everyone was amazing, so in the end it came down to opinion, but I think the public and judges got it right each week.

“Annabel Croft had been one of my favourites for the final, but my mind was changing all the time. Layton Williams, Ellie Leach and Bobby Brazier were all incredible.”

Festivities aside, what does 2024 have in store for Neil?

“There are quite a few projects I need to finish in the new year. We had less time this year, as we were focused on the pregnancy and Havana,” he says. “Chyna has some projects coming up too but, for us, it’s mainly about watching Havana grow. I want to try to be there as much as I can.

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