How would you sum up the dynamic of the panel?
I think what was interesting about last year was that we all got on straight away and we all respected each other’s opinions. With me being new and the first time that Jayne and Chris were on the panel, we used the series to find our feet and this time around we are ready to go. I feel like the dynamic will really reveal itself this time properly.
It seemed that you all benefited last year from the fact you had a mixture of skaters and dancers. Do you think that is something that is quite important?
Definitely! I think the winner of the show doesn’t necessarily have to be the best skater at all. I think they can have great performance value and the skills to pick up choreography, telling the story and being a good performer. All the stuff that me, Jason, Jayne and Chris talk about. I think it’s nice to have judges that specifically talk about the techniques of skating and judges that talk about everything else that will make someone a champion of the show.
You’ve been judging performance shows for a while now. Has anything changed about the way you approach critiquing people?
Nothing’s changed really. The only thing I would say is that I’m probably more honest as I’ve slightly more confidence, to be more honest. I’ve always been honest but not said everything. I think every show I do, I feel more confident to give my honest opinion. This time around I’ll do nothing but give my honest opinion.
Having been on the other side of the track as a contestant on a show like this, does this give you a kind of appreciation for what the contestants go through as well?
I think that going through the process and even being a performer now, having to go to and from rehearsals and then filming the show. I understand the discipline and the fatigue, and I understand the nerves. I get all of that completely and then to top it all off I’ve also been through this process. I think I do have quite a unique understanding of being on the panel for a show like this.
Do you think a lot of the celebrities underestimate the discipline that comes with learning a new craft like ice skating?
Unless you skate or dance or perform in this way for a living, you can’t ever comprehend what it takes. You can never comprehend the toll it takes on your body. It’s not like going to athletics training because you don’t need to go to that with a smile on your face. What’s different about a show like this, you have to go out there and pretend you’re having a great time, perhaps when you’re not. So, mixed with the fatigue and the physicality with having to be a showman, I think that’s where it gets difficult.
If you could earmark any performances that have really given you goosebumps, is there anyone that comes to mind?
I think Jake did a number last year, it was a slow number and it was brilliant. Jake had a few performances last year that really, really impressed me. I can’t necessarily pick one performance but I think Jake in particular and Vanessa had some really special performances. At the same time, I don’t think they’re unbeatable, that’s why I’m excited for this year
Is there anyone from this year’s line-up that you’re very intrigued to see on the ice?
I’m probably at this moment in time most intrigued to see Gemma. I think there is a perception that she might not do well and people expect her to not be good. So, I’m really intrigued to see how she is coping and how she gets on, on the ice. As I’ve said, it’s not an easy thing to master so I hope she sticks at it and I hope she proves people wrong.
If you could earmark a few things that you’ll be looking for in show one, what would it be?
I think show one is always interesting because the celebs have already had months of training, so they’re already on it. It’s their first time to make an impression and as the old saying goes ‘first impressions count’. So, I’m looking to see how people cope with first week nerves. Generally, you start to make a list of people who need to buck up their ideas, people with potential and people that are leading the race. You have no idea where the winner will come from. I’m really looking forward to seeing who the front-runners are because they set their own bar and it’s their job to stay there.
On the flipside of that, are there any faux pas’ that people make that always catch your eye in particular?
I think, while it’s only human, letting those first week nerves get the better of them. As we know, nerves and ice are not a great combo. You could do something perfectly in rehearsals but you could come out to do it live in front of millions of people and it could all go to pot. I think you need to remember that at the end of the day, this is meant to be fun and supposed to be enjoyable and don’t let it overwhelm you. Just get the better of the situation, rather than the other way around. People that can do that, I think they’re the people who can go on to win shows like this.
If you could sum up the show to someone who has never seen it before, how would you describe it?
I would describe it as beautifully dangerous. I think when it’s right, it’s beautiful and fluid and looks easy but when it’s wrong, it is bone-crunchingly wrong! When you mix nerves, celebrities and blades together and a live audience of millions, it makes an interesting recipe. It’s beautifully dangerous!