David James has said he is happy if he and his Strictly Come Dancing partner Nadiya Bychkova appear to have good chemistry, because it is important for their routines.
The retired footballer has also dismissed the idea of being hit by the so-called “curse” of the show, because he is on Strictly, “not Love Island”.
James, 49, and Bychkova, 30, have been in the bottom two in the BBC One dance show for two weeks but the ex-footballer stunned judges with his improvement on Saturday, achieving a score of 28.
A key part of their routines is the way they work together and, referring to their sexual chemistry, James said: “If that’s what it looks like then we’re happy.
“Logically, and this applies to anyone I’m sure, when you’re spending so much time with each other the chemistry is important, but obviously the goal for the two of us – Nadiya wants to win this competition as much as I do – we want to get better and better each week and be entertaining at the same time.”
Bychkova praised the former England goalkeeper for his “acting skills” in allowing the audience to believe they have a natural chemistry between them.
James said: “From my background, winning a game of football, it doesn’t matter how you do it, you get three points and it is arguably a successful day.
“With the dancing, we’re practising long hours to put together a dance which is not just technically right – and what I’m learning now – is that it’s emotionally right as well.
“But then the next week the dance changes, so we have to have the right chemistry. Nadiya is a fantastic teacher, she is the best partner I could have had on this show.
“But there is a goal and that’s to be successful on the show too, so it’s great that we work so well together.”
On the Strictly curse, which has seen several relationships form over the years between celebrities and their professional dance partners, James said: “My view is that, in life itself, if two people are attracted to each other then something might happen, and it doesn’t need to be Strictly that causes that.
“I think the situation with Nadiya and myself… there’s a goal in this. Nadiya is a fantastic teacher, I want to be a fantastic student, but we’re on Strictly Come Dancing, not Love Island or some other show where people get themselves together.
“As I said, I think the chemistry between the two of us is perfect because we know what we’re here for and we’re enjoying the process, even though being in the dance-off isn’t fun.”
Bychkova is in a relationship with Slovenian footballer Matija Skarabot, and James is reported to be currently single.
James joked that he would not use the word “desperate” to describe how much he wants to stay in the competition, but added: “I don’t want to be desperate about anything, I just want us to perform at a better level than we’ve done before and show some sort of progression.
He said being in the bottom two is “not a nice place to be in”.
Last week James and Bychkova were saved from elimination by the judges after a dance-off with Anneka Rice.
The previous week they had been saved after facing James Cracknell.
Strictly Come Dancing: The Results airs at 7.15pm on Sunday on BBC One.