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21st May, 2022

Five minutes with… Phillip Schofield

Leamington Editorial 15th Jan, 2022

Dancing on Ice is back and this year it’s bigger and better than ever, says the returning host.

Expect sequins and drama aplenty as Dancing on Ice promises to put the sparkle back in Sunday night telly.

Yes after weeks of speculation, the ITV hit – dubbed “the greatest show on ice” – will return to its primetime spot this week, with longtime host Phillip Schofield, 59, warning fans “we have a real competition on our hands this year”.

The veteran presenter will of course be joined rink side by his This Morning co-star, Holly Willoughby; whilst Torvill and Dean and Ashley Banjo resume their seat on the judge’s panel, joined by newbie and Strictly Come Dancing star Oti Mabuse.

As for the 12 celebrities set to strap on their skates, expect Coronation Street legend Sally Dynevor, Happy Mondays dancer Bez, Paralympian Stef Reid, Love Island’s Liberty Poole, rugby star Ben Foden, Pussycat Doll Kimberly Wyatt, Paul Gascoigne’s son, dancer Regan Gascoigne, pop star Rachel Stevens, professional dancer Brendan Cole, presenter Ria Hebden, BMX Olympic silver medallist Kye Whyte and The Vamps’ Connor Ball.

But who will take the crown, alongside their professional partner? Who’s most competitive? And are we in for a wild ride? We grill Schofield for the gossip.

WHAT CAN VIEWERS EXPECT TO SEE THIS SERIES?

As with everything, every year it’s always stepped up. It will be great to have everybody back and with a little bit of luck we will make it through unscathed. It’s no secret we really struggled to get it on air last year but we’re back, we are confident, and the line-up is amazing. I am led to believe that the standard of some of the skating is amazing so I think we will have a real competition on our hands.

OTI MABUSE JOINS THE JUDGING PANEL TOO – WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THE NEW LINE-UP?

Amazing. I adore John (Barrowman) and obviously we will miss that larger-than-life personality but in every panel you want to make sure each area is well and truly serviced. Oti will definitely be the one to pick them up on their dancing skills and that’s really important. So, you’ve got Ashley with the overall showbiz nature and difficulty with the moves; obviously Jayne and Chris who have ice skating sewn up; and then you’ve got Oti, who knows exactly what’s required. She will be a great part of the team.

AND AS FOR THE CELEBRITIES, WHO ARE YOU EXCITED TO SEE?

I think there is more than one person who is going to wow this year. You’ve got dancers who I think are going to do particularly well, and I think Kye Whyte is fearless so that always helps when you’ve got someone who isn’t actually scared of the ice or scared of breaking something!

FROM AN OLYMPIAN TO SPORTSMEN BRENDAN COLE AND BEN FODEN, THE COMPETITIVE SPIRIT MUST BE FIERCE?

They are all friends, and it is a lovely family. Every so often there are scraps in every family but it’s mostly a family. You always find, well certainly with the sports people, that they take it very seriously and are so self-critical and they beat themselves up. So, certainly from that side of things there’s an element of inherent competitiveness – they just can’t help it.

WHAT DO THE CELEBRITIES NEED TO BRING TO THE ICE TO HAVE A FIGHTING CHANCE OF GETTING THROUGH EACH WEEK?

I think they’ve got to be themselves. I don’t think you can persuade anybody to vote for you; I think they will vote if they’re a fan, they’ll vote if you’ve impressed them and they’ll vote if you appear to be having a good time. There have been a couple of people who have, let’s say, been spikey. If you are spikey I think you are unlikely to win them (the public) over – but we still like you if you’re spikey. It doesn’t make any difference as far as I’m concerned.

WHY DO YOU THINK DANCING ON ICE REMAINS SO POPULAR WITH VIEWERS?

It switches between the beautiful and the dangerous. It looks gorgeous on the telly, so you’ve got the skating princesses and princes, and at the same time you’ve got the possibility of real jeopardy. Someone you are a big fan of may end up flat on their backside – there is always that. I suppose it really goes without saying that you never know whether you’re going to get a Gemma Collins moment.

YOU’VE HOSTED THE SHOW SINCE THE START. AFTER ALL THESE YEARS, ARE YOU STILL SURPRISED EACH SERIES?

Well last series took us by surprise in a number of different ways – and in ways that none of us ever want to repeat, so yes it does still surprise you. What surprised me last year was although we did falter and fall once, we still kept it pretty much on the telly. The team was amazingly careful, but it was a perfect storm of injury and Covid. I am always surprised by ability, and someone will come out of nowhere and you’ll think, ‘Wow, this is beautiful, what a wonderful moment’ or ‘That was extraordinary’. So, there are always moments like that, so yes it surprises me because people sign up for it because I wouldn’t. I’m A Celeb is the one for me; that’s the one I’d want to do.

YOU TOOK SOME SKATING LESSONS A FEW YEARS AGO. ARE YOU EVER TEMPTED TO TAKE TO THE ICE?

Yes, I mean I did it with Christine (Lampard), we learnt the routine and I thought it was amazing. I watched it back and I thought I was zipping across the ice, but I was like a tortoise, so slow, and I realised then you’ve got to have the time to put in to be really good. If you are going to do something like that, I don’t want it to be a novelty. I want it to be a, ‘Oh my God, they’re amazing’ and we just don’t have the time to put in.

Dancing on Ice returns to ITV on Sunday, January 16.

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