The new series of ITV’s Dancing On Ice started on Sunday and the show’s Blackpool-born associate creative director, Dan Whiston, has talked to The Gazette about his new role and what to expect from the new celebrity skaters.
After appearing on 10 series as one of the professional skaters, Dan says his new role is an “amazing experience”and involves him working on group routine choreography and supporting the professional skaters as a mentor and coach with their celebrity partners.
Despite this he is still performing on the show and wowed viewers with a spectacular performance on the first show when he took to the air as well as ice with the professional dancers.
He said: “It really was a magical moment and I was so humbled by the response I got from viewers on social media.
“It was probably one of my favourite performance I have ever done on the show.”
Dan explained how the dancers have been training since October and he and longtime friend and business partner Karen Barber, head coach on the series, have been working with them along the way.
He added: “The celebrities had to go through 30 hours of training even before they are paired up with their professional partners so it can be very tough.”
Dan thinks dancer James Jordan will be a favourite to win the series but believes he will be under a lot of pressure after his first performance, which was the judges’ favourite.
He said: “In some ways he will be under a lot of pressure due to how well he performed his first skate.
“He is going to have to pull it out of the bag throughout the series.
“Another favourite I think is Didi Conn (who played Frenchy in the film Grease), who melts my heart every time I see her on the ice.
“She is probably the most mature lady we have had on the show but when you watch she is great and I think she will be a fan favourite.”
He also thinks Love Island’s Wes Nelson, Loose Women’s Saira Khan and former Westlife singer Brian McFadden are ones to watch as well.
Dan also thinks celebrity dancers such as James Jordan and Pussycat Doll Melody Thornton will not have an advantage over their fellow contestants, something that was a talking point on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.
He said: “With dancing I can understand, but our celebrities are doing it with blades on their feet on ice.
“They may know how to dance but skating is a completely brand new skill to perform.
“It could even be a bit of a hindrance when they have trained for years as a dancer and they know have to be retrained and reprogrammed to learn it a different way.”
With all the work to do on the new series, which will run into March, Dan says he is still managing to see family and friends on the Fylde
He added: “Because I do a lot of travelling, such as coming up North to see some of the skaters such as Coronation Street’s Jane Danson, I still get a couple of days a week with my family in Blackpool.”