Dancing On Ice judges Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean have promised the best skater will win when they join the show’s judging panel.
The former world champion skaters will swap their previous roles as mentors and choreographers when the series returns next month, joining Jason Gardiner and Ashley Banjo to critique the fresh batch of celebrity hopefuls.
Torvill, 60, compared the show to the latest series of Strictly Come Dancing – which saw skilled dancer Aston Merrygold controversially eliminated early in the competition – as the pair assured viewers that the most talented skaters will come out on top.
At a launch for the upcoming show at London’s Natural History Museum ice rink, she said: “Sometimes, as you do with Strictly, you lose someone early on that shouldn’t have gone, and it’s usually because they’re quite good and people think they are fine and they don’t vote for them.
“But I think, in the end, your finalists are the better skaters.”
Dean, 59, added: “The skating always shines… but if we went round the table and asked for what moment you remember about Dancing On Ice, it isn’t always about the best skater.”
The event this week gave the judges a first glimpse of the celebrity contestants in action on the ice, but they were careful not to put any “tags” on who is flying ahead so far.
“There are some good characters,” commented Dean. “There’s only going to be one winner of the show but I think there’s going to be lots of adventures along the way with all the contestants.”
After a busy week that also involved a first session filming with their new co-judges and presenters Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, Torvill said: “It had a really good rapport.
“I suppose we are the serious ones, Jason is out there and then Ashley, being young and new, brings another energy to it.”
She also joked that it would be “not possible” to be more critical than the notoriously scrutinising Gardiner, adding: “We’ve got to be honest and if someone is not looking so good and not improving then we’ve got to say it.
“Our first focus will be the skating skills – that’s what we do, that’s what we know. Then it’s about the whole package and who perform, so they haven’t got an easy job.”
Dean added: “We developed the show with ITV when it started and so we were constantly honing it down to where it got to. Now we are not a part of that, but I am looking forward to the new role.”
Dean also said he was looking forward to the “new look and feel” of the show following format changes, which will see the professionals take on the extra challenge of choreographing the performances themselves.
He said: “There’s going to be a whole wall of LED screen so we can set scenes with a moving background.”
:: Dancing On Ice returns to ITV on January 7 at 6pm.