Caroline Quentin’s pain when Paul Merton moved on with understudy before tragedy

Strictly Come Dancing contestant Caroline Quentin is set to take to the dance floor for the first time on Saturday night with her partner Johannes Radebe.

The 60-year-old actress is known for her television appearances – portraying Dorothy in Men Behaving Badly, Maddie Magellan in Jonathan Creek and DCI Janine Lewis in Blue Murder.

Caroline was married to her first husband Paul Merton from 1990 until their divorce in 1998 and he moved on with her understudy, Sarah Parkinson.

The TV personally first met funny man Paul on a train on the way to the Edinburgh Festival and he threw the book she was reading out the window.

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

"I said I thought it was terrible. He said he had read it and agreed."

She added: "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."

Caroline and Paul were considered to be the king and queen of comedy, starring in The Live Bed Show in 1995.

The couple split two years later and Caroline admitted that she didn't see it coming.

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

The actor told the Guardian at the time that he and Sarah were "just talking," but once his marriage came to an end, Paul and Sarah got married unofficially in the Maldives in 2000.

Meanwhile, in 1998 Caroline met runner Sam Farmer on the set of Men Behaving Badly.

Despite being 11 years her junior, they got married in Devon in 2006 and have two children together, Emily Rose and William.

Caroline credits her family as being the "centre of my universe".

Paul and Sarah never achieved 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"

Instead, the producer married Paul in an official ceremony in Rye, Essex in 2003.

Sarah passed away with a heartbroken Paul by her bedside just 12 weeks later and 19 months after being diagnosed.

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

"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 airs on BBC One on Saturday at 7.25pm

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