Onstage, it was all sequins and smiles as Bobby Brazier, the endearing star of last year’s Strictly series, twirled and quickstepped in front of his adoring fans for the show’s live tour.
One fan, though, had more reason to cheer than most: Bobby’s adoring grandmother, Jackiey Budden.
Front and centre at Newcastle’s Metro Arena earlier this year, Jackiey was holding something precious as she watched her talented grandson perform – a picture of her late daughter, Bobby’s mother, reality star Jade Goody.
‘I travelled to Newcastle so I could be as close as possible to him,’ Jackiey tells me in this emotional interview. ‘I took a picture of Jade with me so she could watch him too. It was important to me that she was there as well.
‘I was sat really near the front, around some big fans of Bobby’s. One of them got his attention and he saw me. He knew I was there and that’s all I needed to know.’
Why, you might wonder, was it so important to Jackiey that her grandson saw her in the audience?
Jackiey Budden was seen standing and waving as Bobby lifted the glitter ball on the night with dance partner Dianne Buswell
Jackiey had not sees grandson Bobby Brazier perform in strictly come dancing before his Newcastle performance
Dianne Buswell and Bobby Brazier attend the photocall for the Strictly Come Dancing: The Live Tour 2024
The truth is, she says today, that despite her love for her famous grandson, she hasn’t seen him for over a year, thanks to a family rift between her and the boys’ father, television presenter Jeff Brazier.
So deeply has their relationship been damaged that Jackiey was even forced to buy her own ticket to see Bobby perform in Newcastle.
It’s clear, though, that Jackiey would do anything to be close to Bobby. ‘At least he knew I had made the effort for him, and that I still love him despite whatever has gone on with his dad,’ she says emotionally.
Jackiey was later buoyed when she received a text message from Bobby. ‘He said he had seen I was there and hoped I had enjoyed the show. I very much did, he was great out there on the dancefloor, he was such an entertainer.
‘It’s the first time I had heard anything from him in months. It was lovely, but I think it will be a while before I do again.’
It’s all a long way from the days when an adoring Bobby would leave a single yellow rose on his grandmother’s doorstep if he ever visited her Bermondsey home and she wasn’t there; the sweetest of calling cards to let her know that he had missed seeing her.
Today, however, her fallout with their father has effectively ended their intimacy of their relationship.
‘Bobby was on my hip from when he was tiny baby,’ Jackiey tells me. ‘Throughout his years as a young boy, and then as he grew up, he would come and visit all of the time.
‘What I would give for another yellow rose on my doorstep now. He is the kindest, loveliest boy. I miss him unimaginably.’
Bobby, 20, whose full name is Bobbyjack, hasn’t visited Jackiey at her council flat for over a year. Previously, Bobby had regularly popped over, and the pair would watch old videos of Jade’s television programmes for comfort.
‘If we were feeling sad one day, Freddy would go and do one of Jade’s exercise videos in the bedroom and Bobby and I would sit and watch some of her old programmes in the living room.
Jade Goody and son Bobby Jack Brazier in 2006
Jade Goody and her sons Bobby Jack (L) and Freddie arrive at the premiere of Garfield 2: A Tail Of Two Kitties, at the Vue Cinema West End on July 16, 2006
Jade Goody’s Mum Jackiey Budden with Jade’s children Freddie and Bobby leaving the Royal Marsden Hospital in London
‘I have got all of the DVDs from that time, we would watch Jade’s Salon, a reality show she did about opening a hairdressers.
‘We would just sit and talk about Jade while it was on. I think it helped us all,’ she says, wistfully.
So close were they that Jackiey would even take young Bobby’s packed lunch to him when he began his first job as an office worker on the top floor of London’s Shard building.
‘We did so much together,’ says Jackiey. ‘We used to walk around Borough Market at lunchtime when I met him from work, or we would go to Soho and just wander.
‘Bobby rang me just before Strictly and we had a short chat about how he was getting on. That was the last time we spoke. It breaks my heart.’
Those who know Jackiey say that the fallout between herself and Jeff has robbed her of her grandchildren – and the only link she has to her late daughter, who first became famous in 2002 after appearing on Big Brother.
Shortly afterwards, Jade met former professional football player Jeff, now 46. Their relationship lasted barely two years, but produced their two sons: Bobby in 2003 and Freddy in 2004. Jackiey says she often pitched in with childcare.
Jade sadly died in 2009 from cervical cancer, aged just 27. After her death, a protective Jeff sought to keep his sons out of the limelight.
Jackiey says she and Jeff ‘rubbed along’ together in this time. But as the boys grew up, their relationship imploded.
Jackiey blames the fall out on Jeff, and what she says are ‘differing values’.
Indeed, Jeff has previously spoken openly about this, saying Jackiey spoiled his sons with ‘unsuitable’ purchases he had to confiscate.
According to Jeff, Jackiey had bought both boys, who were then aged under 10, gifts like mobile phones without consulting him first.
He said: ‘She got them a phone each so she could have direct contact with them both and I don’t remember being asked if I minded… I understand she wants direct contact but they are just too young to be carrying these things around responsibly… I can’t fault Jackiey when she’s got the boys, I just wish we could work together a little better.’
Today, Jackiey says: ’The boys live with Jeff, so Bobby feels like he has to do what Jeff wants. I get it.’
But what does she make of Jeff? ‘We don’t get on. We are very different, but I have been there for those boys since they were born.’
Jackiey avoids being too impolite about Jeff for fear of making relations even worse – but emotions rise, and she can’t help but describe him as the ‘c**k’ several times during our interview.
Does she like him, I ask? ‘No, not at all, but he doesn’t like me either.’
One should point out here, however, that it’s fair to say Jackiey is not a conventional grandmother. A former drug addict, she has been open about her failings as a mother, raising Jade on benefits in an often chaotic and sometimes abusive one-parent household.
For all her flaws, though, one can’t help but feel sorry for Jackiey. Undoubtedly, she’s undoubtedly has lost more from the feud than Jeff – not least the fact that it’s prevented her from cheering Bobby on during some of the biggest moments of his life.
Jackiey tells me she was saddened to learn she wasn’t invited BBC’s Elstree studios to see Bobby perform on the Strictly stage.
In contrast, Jeff and his wife Kate would regularly be there to cheer him on.
It seemed Bobby’s allocation of audience tickets went to Jeff and his wife Kate (with whom he was recently reconciled after splitting last year), as well as Freddy, 19. Not once throughout the 12-week run of the BBC One programme was Jackiey given the opportunity to go.
Clearly, Jackiey is angry about this – especially because she wasn’t in the audience when Bobby performed a tearjerking ‘couples’ choice’ dance to Maxwell’s This Woman’s Work in memory of his late mother.
Neither did she feature in the pre-recorded clip before the performance where Bobby paid tribute to Jade.
Jeff, however, had a starring role.
Jackiey says she remains ‘sad’ not to have been included. ‘I thought that was wrong,’ she says adamantly.
Despite attempts to make peace with Jeff, she didn’t get an invitation to see Bobby compete in the Strictly final, where he eventually lost to actress Ellie Leach.
Instead, she watched the final at her home, a three-bedroom council flat in Bermondsey, South East London.
‘I was so proud,’ she admits. ‘Watching my Bobbyjack doing that was wonderful. I didn’t miss a minute. I just have to remember that, I got to see him do that and it was amazing.’
But would she have liked to have been there? ‘Of course I would. But I wasn’t allowed,’ she says.
This wasn’t the first time Jackiey has been excluded from Bobby’s fame. When he was up for the Rising Star award at the National Television Awards last September, she bought her own ticket to the event.
And after seeing Bobby perform on the Strictly tour in Newcastle, as soon as she got home to London, she decided she would travel again – this time to Liverpool – to see him perform once more.
‘I took Jade with me again, I just know what that would have meant to her.
‘Bobby is Jade, I looked at him out there, he has her features and in particular, her smile. Her amazing smile. I can’t tell you how happy it made me.’
So what for the future of the once close nan and grandson?
‘I would love more than anything to repair all of this. I really wish I could do it now.
‘I miss Bobby, and hope that maybe once he moves out of Jeff’s house and has his own place he will feel that he can see me again and we can go back to how we use to be.’
And Bobby will once again remind his nan that he loves her by leaving her a yellow rose.