Alexandra Burke has revealed that she was battling a secret illness throughout the final weeks of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ at the end of last year.

The 29 year old former ‘X Factor’ winner was a defeated finalist in the 2017 edition of the BBC’s dancing contest. The series had started shortly after the death of her mother, and Burke spoke to the Huffington Post about how tough it was to take part – and not just because of that bereavement.

She revealed that she was “really sick” during the closing stages of the competition. “I'm not going to lie to you, it was bloody difficult. I was in the studio every single day while doing ‘Strictly’ and I had to stop towards the end because I got really, really sick during the last three weeks, which I didn't tell anyone about.”

Alexandra BurkeAlexandra Burke kept an illness hidden during last few weeks of 'Strictly'

Burke also had to put up with a number of fabricated stories in the press throughout the last weeks of ‘Strictly’, with rumours that she wasn’t getting along with other contestants and behaving like a diva.

More: Alexandra Burke’s “fake emotions” on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ defended by former judge Alesha Dixon

“That, for me, came out of the blue [and] felt to a degree... like it was a bit personal, and a slight attack,” she continued. “I was staying quiet, in the hope that it would just go away. I'd gone through so much that's so much bigger than all that in the past six months, and that's why I didn't reply.”

“My brother just kept saying to me, 'Look what you've gone through, and you're still standing. Leave it, and don't speak up, and don't say anything'.”

However, it’s been a much rosier start to 2018 for the ‘Hallelujah’ singer, with her third studio album The Truth Is set for release in a fortnight’s time, and with the announcement of her engagement to her boyfriend of two years, Josh Ginnelly.

More: Alexandra Burke has announced her engagement