Strictly’s Caroline Quentin’s heartbreak over Paul Merton split before marrying toyboy

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She's currently slap bang in the middle of the Strictly Come Dancing leaderboard with hunky pro dancer Johannes Radebe.

And while Caroline Quentin's husband Sam Farmer can't cheer her on from the audience due to Covid-19 restrictions, he's been supporting his long-term love from the comfort of their family home.

The couple fell in love on the set of Men Behaving Badly back in 1998, where Sam was working as a runner.

He was 25, Caroline was 36, but the 11-year age gap was just a number for the pair, who went on to marry and have children Rose, 21, and William, 17.

Caroline Quentin and Sam Farmer pictured in the early days of their romance

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And her happiness came after a heartbreaking chapter in the actress' life that saw her marriage to fellow comedian Paul Merton end.

It was on a train to the Edinburgh Festival that the pair first met when Paul threw the book she was reading out the window.

"I was sitting opposite him, reading. Alec Guinness's autobiography, I think," Caroline once told the Independent.

"I said I thought it was terrible. He said he had read it and agreed. I said I didn't think I'd manage to finish it. He took it from me and threw it out of the window. 'That'll save you the trouble,' he said."

The funny man and funny woman tied the knot in 1990 and were considered to be the hip, young king and queen of comedy, starring in The Live Bed Show in 1995.

Caroline said she didn't see her split from Paul Merton coming

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Then two years later they split – and it was a separation that Caroline, 60, didn't see coming.

"I didn't know my marriage was going wrong till it ended, really," she previously told the Guardian.

Making matters worse, she recalled being followed by photographers, telling the Independent: "It is such a dreadful time, when you're feeling so vulnerable and crap as a person, and then that happens."

Paul, 63, then moved on with Sarah Parkinson, who had served as Caroline's understudy on the three-month London leg of The Live Bed Show.

He told the Guardian that at that point, they were 'just talking', but once his marriage ended, Paul and writer and producer Sarah got together and they married unofficially in the Maldives in 2000.

Paul later married Sarah Parkinson
(Image: PA)

"We are together for the rest of our lives," he said.

Meanwhile, for a while, Caroline feared her happy ever after would allude her.

"I was 36. I had a career but I never thought I'd meet anyone else or have a family," she told the Evening Standard. "It is so completely unexpected to have all of this, and that makes it very special."

Sadly, Paul and Sarah never got achieve their dreams of starting a family when just months after trying IVF, Sarah discovered two small lumps in her breast.

She was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer at 39 and underwent surgery but declined to have chemotherapy or radiotherapy, fearing it would 'finish her off'.

Sam and Caroline went on to get married and have two children
(Image: REX/Shutterstock)

Instead, the writer and producer turned to alternative therapies and married Paul in an official ceremony in Rye, Essex in 2003.

Just 12 weeks later on September 23 – 19 months after being diagnosed – Sarah passed away with a heartbroken Paul by her bedside.

In a statement he said: "After her initial devastating diagnosis of cancer in February 2002 Sarah successfully lived with the disease for the next 19 months.

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"She refused chemotherapy because she knew it would finish her off. Instead, she boosted her immune system with a mixture of nutritional therapy, yoga, meditation, positive thinking and laughter.

"Consequently she led a full and active life right up to the last couple of weeks when her condition suddenly worsened."

"She faced the situation with courage and died serenely and without pain in the early hours of Tuesday morning."

Paul married fellow comedian Suki Webster in 2009.

* Strictly Come Dancing continues Saturday, November 14 at 7:10pm on BBC One.