The series marked the start of your presenting double-act with Holly. For that reason, does it make you feel quite sentimental about doing it?
I suppose it is really! It’s funny because we were both nervous for very different reasons when we started Dancing on Ice. Holly was nervous because it was her first big night-time show…and it was a monster! For me, I was nervous because no one had any idea whether there was an appetite for it, until we got the figures the next day. None of us could believe how many people had watched it. We didn’t know we had a hit on our hands.
We had the four-year break until last year. How different did it feel going back to it last year? Did it feel like no time had passed?
It’s terrifying how fast four years goes by. What helped was that we were in a completely different place. If we had gone back to the same studio then that really would have been weird. What was exciting for us was a new purpose-built studio and all the things that we wanted to do at the end of the last series, we were able to incorporate this time. Changing the shape of the rink, putting the audience in a different place and big screens at the back so it was fully immersive. These were all things we would have loved to have done but it’s way too expensive when you’re into a series, so we were all able to put in place the changes we wanted to put in.
Torvill and Dean moved to the panel last year, how would you describe the current dynamic of the panel?
For me, it’s the best it has ever been! I thought where we were last series with our judges was absolutely perfect. Jayne and Chris on the judging panel were brilliant because who knows more than them? Both of them are so close to the show anyway and knew what was required. Jason is fabulously caustic as always.
I love the fact that you never quite know what he is going to say and Ashley, who was a revelation as a Dancing on Ice judge because you have to have people whose strengths are choreography and dance. So, you’ve got such a strong end of the judging panel with Jayne and Chris on skating and equally as strong on choreography at the other end with Ashley and Jason. For me, it was my favourite panel!
Looking at this year’s line-up, is there anyone that you’re intrigued to see?
I think the nation is intrigued to see Gemma! Now we know who she is partnered up with and Matt will be absolutely brilliant with her. I’ve said it to Gemma, “if you make the first show it’ll be a miracle” and she does seem very committed. We all know Gemma for being a bit of a quitter so I’m hoping she’ll be there for that first show. I think she’ll be actually very good! I think she is surprisingly good, so I think that would be great to see.
Four years ago you took to the ice for the series finale. Do you think you could ever be persuaded to do another turn?
Christine and I were so thrilled that we’d learnt our routine because it’s quite intense and there wasn’t enough time. To do it properly you have to give a lot of time to it, as all our skaters find out. I thought when we did that it went really well and then I watched it back and thought “Oh my god, we’re going so slowly” but it felt really quick on the ice. So, I think possibly not because when you do something you want to make sure you do it properly. I don’t think I can give it the time it needs to do it to a standard that everybody expects.
Looking back on all your memories across the show, which routine in particular stands out and took your breath away?
Wow…Torvill and Dean have done routines that have taken my breath away. In fact, most of their routines have taken my breath away.
Eventually you get to know Jayne and Chris and everyone is mates, so although they’re spectacular, you get used to being around them. In those first few weeks when Jayne and Chris dance, that was breath-taking! You think “I’m so lucky that I’m standing here and I’m expected to be here and haven’t had to either pay or get tickets and here I am watching this!” I think it was Suzanne Shaw that did one of the flying routines and she was so beautiful and so graceful, I think that was a special routine.
If you were describing the show to someone who had never seen it before, in a sentence or two, how would you describe it?
I would say that there are many dance shows and many singing shows around the world, but this is the only show that can truly draw blood! It’s dangerous, celebrities and their pros learning to skate on ice over a limited period of time. The pros desperately want to do well and the celebrities always find it harder than they think it’s going to be and there is real peril! It is dangerous and I do think it is the hardest of all the reality shows.
On that subject, do you think it’s quite underestimated in terms of the work that goes into it, from the celebrities’ side?
Yes! There are little things that you forget and little things you didn’t know. If you fall over on the ice, you pull your hands in because the last thing you want is someone to skate over your fingers because they would chop your fingers off! I think there is a lot that people forget. To get your boots to fit properly they have to walk around their kitchens with their boots on, for weeks, until those boots feel comfortable! I’ve done amateur skating and obviously with the routine I did with Christine and you think ‘God, this hurts so much!’ So, those celebs whose skates have been stolen out the back of their cars, a lot of people would think ‘oh, that’s a shame’ but in actual fact that is stealing something that you have worked so hard to make them fit like a glove. There are many aspects that perhaps if you are watching it, you don’t realise how tough it is. Hopefully this year they’ll all look after their boots!