Love the fact I’ve seen this described as my “valedictory year” as a blogger, fully aware I’m about to spend over two months of it rattling on indifferently about Strictly’s inbred backwoods cousin.
Joe Swash & Alexandra Schauman : It really does feel like Joe Swash has done this show before right? An ITV reality tv mainstay for the last decade? And he’s never laced up the skates? I mean, it turns out I was specifically inaccurately thinking of Jeff Brazier in my head when I was picturing it out (as has Stacey Solomon I’m sure, many times), but really you could go for any one of about five different former contestants here as your mistaken identity. Even Joe’s most adorable and winning accessory, a tiny little baby watching on from the audience wearing ear defenders, was already done by Gemma’n’Gorka on Strictly only a few months ago. So what marks Joe Swash out as his own man in Dancing On Ice terms? A slightly tentative but respectable midtable shuffle around the ice to Olly Murs (Olly being the patron saint of this sort of UK reality show contestant, none shall ever scale his heights again)? With a nightclub theme? Of course not. The show itself thought that it could maybe sell Joe joking that he was the designated duffer being given to Alexandra after winning last year with James Jordan as a thing, but that’s not something this show has ever really done, and his skating didn’t really justify the label. All in all, a contestant still really looking for a role, at this point.
Perri Kiely & Vanessa Bauer : Vanessa here of course immediately serving up grand evidence against the “Dancing On Ice winner gets a duffer” theory, as she careens towards a probable overall run of 1st-2nd-1st on the show, with the professional dancer amongst the cast as her ice-partner. For the uninitiated Perri is the (formerly) little one from Diversity I always used to think was a girl (because SURELY a dance troupe calling itself Diversity wouldn’t have the front to have NO WOMEN in it?!) who is now, as the tabloids would say, ALL GROWN UP. And yes Ashley Banjo is the leader and founder and primary profiter from Diversity and yes he is a judge on Dancing On Ice and yes the show is heading for a conflict of interest that makes Oti and Motsi look like a little light backroom handshaking. This week’s routine was all about Perri casting off his street dance origins, with him, his trademark afro all bundled up into a top-knot, SMASHING UP A HOLOGRAM of several hoodies in order to skate a routine to “Puttin On The Ritz”, all classy like. I do love when ITV1 reality serves itself up even semi-ironically as old Hollywood Glamour, Perri skating around here in front of an audience of Loose Women and Love Island alum, before Kem Cetinay appeared to ask us all if we’d like to “come in Kem’s Cabin” (ie his arsehole) after the show. You can just imagine Fred & Ginge as the interval act can’t you? The tension here (other than the potential for rampant nepotism) is that everyone expects Perri to win, because he can already dance and ice-skate. Anyone has watched Dancing On Ice before will tell you that…this means that Perri will probably win, because he can already dance and ice-skate.
Lisa George & Tom Naylor : My first “I Don’t Know Her” of the cast, as Lisa here plays a mid-tier Coronation Street character who is (*checks notes*) gobby AND feisty, can you believe it? Not being a Corrie Viewer, I’ll take her word for it. I guess it at least means there’s more potential for a bit of fireworks than with Jane last year, bless her, who was frequently less interesting as a contestant than spending the 90 second routine checking the ice to see if anyone had accidentally drawn a big willie’n’balls with their blades by mistake. Lisa has two angles here – firstly she used to be a nigh-on-professional ice-skater in training in her early youth before an accident on the ice meant she ACCIDENTALLY SLICED HER OWN FACE OFF (something like that) and she hasn’t skated since, and also her professional partner is an NHS doctor for his dayjob, and is blandly handsome in the sort of way that would absolutely get him cast top of the list as a General Hospital/Holby City hunk. So expect all sorts of “Dr Dreamy” references as the weeks go by. Lisa’s opening routine was certainly primed for maximum romance, as she and Dr Naylor (really asking for the jokes with that surname isn’t he?) skated around romantically and elegantly to “When I Fall In Love” under a lovely spotlight ooooh, and then that was enough for poise and decorum on the show for one week so it was right back into sexy nurses, magic tricks, and Michael Barrymore shouting half of “SMILE” by Charlie Chaplin in his pro’s face as they commiserate over his getting invalided out of the competition with a tupped wrist. 1.5 minutes of even half-subtlty and decorum MAX in every 120 minutes of showtime, it’s the Dancing On Ice way.
Ben Hanlin & Carlotta Edwards : Ben here is, I believe, in the cast as a replacement for Kelvin Fletcher, after Strictly poached the latter off their training list to replace Baron Von Biscuits on Strictly. He’s a magician, apparently, and no me either. The MORE terrifying thing is that this replacement means the show apparently thinks they’re using him as the HOT HANK in this year’s cast and, with the best will in a world, you can show him rolling around shirtless in bed in his VT all you like, you can have NEW JUDGE BARROWMAN make lascivious comments about the beauty of his arse all you want, nobody, other than Debbie McGee, has ever wanted to fuck a tv magician. Not really, not if they’re honest. Ben’s day job of course meant that Philunholly breathlessly hyped up all evening that we were about to see MAGIC ON DANCING ON ICE FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME (as though the show already making Brian McFadden almost likeable last year doesn’t count enough as an unnatural act of dark mysterious power) and then Carlotta…popped out of a cage or something, it wasn’t entirely clear. Also don’t tell me that Stephen Mulhern hasn’t skated on during a break one time to do some silk and ball work to warm the audience up, I don’t believe you, the guy gets into everything. The rest of the routine (to “Bring Me To Life” the soundtrack to many a bad 2004 KRISS ANGEL AND DAVID BLAINE TOGETHER AT LAST XTREME MAGIC SPECIAL on the SyFy channel I’m sure) wasn’t necessarily up to much, but as long there’s potential for BARROWMAN to make jokes about Ben’s wand, and how he wants to make something disappear in his magic circle, it feels like the show will give these two enough juice to stay in for a few more weeks at least.
Trisha Goddard & Lukasz Rozycki : I’ll have to be honest, I’m not sure I was ready, mortality wise, for Trisha’s storyline on this show to be “PEOPLE KEEP ON TELLING ME ON THE INTERNET THAT I’M TOO OLD, AND THAT A PENSIONER SHOULDN’T BE DOING DANCING ON ICE!”. Debbie McGee going from the UK’s Anna Nicole Smith to Glamorous Granny was bad enough, stop reminding me of my advancing age, reality tv! Lukasz of course, whose last two proper partners were Diddy Kong (67) and Big Mo from Eastenders (immortal hell-demon) was well prepared to play therapist, having been around this track a few times, and certainly his skills were called on tonight as Trisha suffered the most traumatising of all Dancing On Ice routine outcomes. That’s right, she fell right on her arse. As the speakers blared out “Give It Up” by KC & The Sunshine Band, which…well I can’t imagine it was terribly motivational for her, as an experience. To be honest, between that and the absolutely hideous jumpsuit right out the Wincey Willis collection, it did feel like production were quite keen to shuffle Trisha off somewhere else as soon as possible, and the public obliged by putting her in THE DREADED SKATE-OFF. Against the loser of next weekend’s show, obviously, heaven forbid there be a bit of forward narrative momentum on this show, CHOP CHOP GET TO CUTTING. Other than her bus pass status, Trisha’s VT also focused on the adversity she had suffered as a breast cancer survivor and then segued RIGHT from that into Trish admitting that the pain she feels when she falls on the ice makes her feel ALIVE/turns her on/powers her infernal batteries. I hope she and Lukasz get to Movie Week so they can do a full on grot performance of David Cronenberg’s “Crash”, I’d be here for it.
H & Matt Evers : So we finally did it gang. We finally, after several years of cajoling, arguing, politely explaining and also explaining not as politely, we got our first ever same-sex couple performance on a flagship dance reality show. And it was every bit as unremarkable as I always dreamed it would be! Solid skating, slightly ham acting, decent enough lift, bland as fuck choreography done to an incredibly undynamic song in fairly plain matching outfits, and given reasonable 6/10 scores by the judges. All those years we were told it’d be freakish, unworkable, repellent, unnatural and inauthentic, and that it’d take over the entire show and that the viewers would instantly all turn off in their droves and then none of that happened, IMAGINE THAT! Obviously, given BARROWMAN’S Tears Of Delight chiselling a path through his make-up on the judging panel afterwards, there’s still time for someone to kick off and call “HOMOPHOBIA!!!!!!” the first time these two in the bottom 2 (and I can’t imagine it’ll take that long), but as for now (ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING THE FACT THAT IT’S A PARTNERSHIP THAT FEATURES IAN “H” WATKINS, WINNER OF THE AWARD FOR MOST IRRITATING BRITISH GAY MAN IN PUBLIC LIFE EVERY YEAR FROM 1999 TO 2004, AN ICONIC STREAK) this was all marvellously uneventful and moderately entertaining! I think my favourite part was the really smurfy bit when Matt tried to make a big deal out of how H tried to take his hand like a MAN takes someone’s hand to dance when he’s used to his celeb taking his hand LIKE A WOMAN WOULD, and this went on for about five minutes. Deliciously bland, wonderfully Dancing On Ice.