And so, Dancing On Ice ends, not with a bang, but with me turning over to watch the end of a Poirot on ITV 3, because the prospect of a Ray and Hayley Final 2 made me dry heave.
So yeah, this final entry of the series will take a different form from usual, because I didn’t actually watch the final all the way through. Somewhere around Beth getting eliminated I remembered why I was so reluctant to recap this series of Dancing On Ice in the first place and took a huff and changed the channel. And more fool me, because apparently in the 25 minutes I missed Earth-Angel Holly Willougby returned dressed in a gothic tablecloth (ably cut to enhance her mighty bosom of course) to scream “TORVILL & DEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAN” one last time. And that was always my favourite part. So really this final entry will be more of a freeform pondering on the last gasps of Dancing On Ice.
Showcases: When the show introduced the “Showcase” round in Series 6, it felt like it was finally accepting that at its core it was really just a Strictly Come Dancing knock-off ON ICE. Except this is ITV so instead of the odd firework or sailor’s outfit, we got almighty spoogings of props and dancers that make the worst excesses of “Wet Yourself It’s Wednesday” look like minimalist Brechtian theatre. As it was the All-Stars final, all skaters were mandated to get 40 out of 40, partly to leave us with the taste in our mouths that this truly was the very best of the very best, and partly to stop the mentalist Beth-fans underdogging her to the victory. As such all three routines played to the celebrities individual strengths. Beth came out as a cheerleader to “Who Run The World” and spent the rest of the routine in the air doing gymnastic moves as the men passed her round from person to person. Hayley came out and did some musical theatre, and Ray took his shirt off. Apparently this passes for one of Ray’s “strengths” amongst some of the populace, search me, he’ll always me the little naked boy from the Love Is cartoon to me. As a starter for the episode it all felt like an admirable bit of fun, whilst not telling us anything much other than that Lukasz admirably fills out an American Footballer uniform. Which I already knew. From that dream I had.
Favourite Routines: The Reprise round managed to highlight one of the key failings of Dancing On Ice over the years – that when the routines aren’t high-concept cultural appropriation Torvill & Dean’s pro-celebrity chreography is for the most part pretty dull. So we had to sit and watch again as Beth, Hayley and Ray plundered Scottish, Indian, and Spanish themed dress-up respectively. This of all the rounds is where it seemed most like Beth fell off the pace as there’s really, even if you’re a confirmed Hayley-Hatah you can’t deny the power of Jai Ho. Well not without interminably whining about toe-picks such that you sound like one of the the comedy characters out of The Cutting Edge. By comparison, Beth titting around in a kilt didn’t really feel like much ado about anything really. Of course the judges stuck to the script as written out a few weeks ago, with Beth getting dinged by Jason one last time for performance, and Hayley getting dinged by Robin one last time for problems with her technical skating. Ray of course, lept on down the middle with yet another 40.0
Boleros: I mean, I didn’t watch either of them, because if I never ever ever see Bolero ever again I can officially die happy, but let’s just say that Ray’s was better and move on shall we?
RAY WINS!: So yeah. Dancing On Ice goes out with exactly the result that we all knew it would have way back when at the start of the series, with Ray winning the trophy, albeit in the tightest final result in Dancing On Ice history. In fairness, I have liked Ray a lot more this series (…right up until that bit where he started smugly reeling off Spanish for whatever reason) and Hayley a lot less, and he clearly deserved to win the series on merit. But who watches reality shows to watch people win things on merit? There’s SPORT and LIFE and EUROVISION for that. This being an All-Stars series has just given both the fanbase and the show and most unforgivably of all the other contestants, who were notionally competing with him licence to bellow “RAY IS THE BEST SKATER SO RAY SHOULD WIN” incessantly for two and a half months non-stop without pause. It’s like the entire franchise suddenly became Natalie Gumede’s fanbase and I’m frankly not surprised that ratings took a swan-dive into the toilet, even if the show was mostly fairly entertaining.
The Vote Reveal: Obviously the best part of any ITV reality show is the vote reveal. In this case it has revealed that, Suzanne winning her otherwise lacklustre heat aside, this was a three-horse-race between our eventual three finallists from the very start, with none of the other runners or riders getting a look in. It’s perhaps interesting that Ray only topped the public vote in the final but then again…he never really needed the votes til then did he? In reality, easily the most exciting thing about the vote reveal is that the biggest threat from the chasing pack of underdogs and non-winners came not from Gareth Gates or Todd Carty but one Bonnie Langford, who was, if not nipping at the frontrunners heels, at least doing jazz hands in their dust. Oh, and nobody liked Sam or Kyran ever what a surprise.
So Long Dancing On Ice: And so here, at the end, as the body is interred, we have to decide whether we will miss Dancing On Ice. It’s always been a bit of a mixed bag of a show. If I were pushed I’d say that I loved Series 1, 3 and 6, liked Series 2, 5 and 7, and would happily see Series 4 and “Operation Matt Lapinskas Happen” nuked from space with bombs made out of radioactive sharks. But a combination of the dwindling ratings, the loss of Holly, Phillip becoming more and more weird, the arrival of Ashley Roberts, the death of Gubba, gimmick after gimmick after gimmick after gimmick, the deadening sense that an actual turd could get 50% of the vote most weeks if it had fallen out of a horse’s arse on Emmerdale, and worst of all, PEOPLE ACTUALLY ACTING LIKE JASON GARDINER MAKES ANY SENSE EVER, has left me feeling kind of glad that it’s all over. We’ve had joy, we’ve had fun, we’ve had Matt Evers’ Lovely Bum, but…well…RIP Dancing On Ice. We’ll always have Elen Rivas.