Now in its 15th series, Dancing On Ice still wows fans with its glitz and glamour – and occasional tumbles.

But while viewers find what’s happening on camera entertaining enough, what goes on behind them can be just as interesting.

And there are a few people who have plenty of stories to tell.

The show’s creative director and former pro skater Dan Whiston has worked on Dancing On Ice since its 2006 launch and won it with celebs such as Hayley Tamaddon and Beth Tweddle.

Meanwhile, pro skater Mark Hanretty has been on the show since 2011 and is currently partnered with Hollyoaks star Carley Stenson.

Here, Dan, 46, and Mark, 37, spill the beans on what goes on, revealing the products banned on the rink, who was the most nervous contestant and which judge accidentally set the fire alarms off last week – resulting in host Holly Willoughby having to stand in the studio car park with her hair rollers in. Oops!

Three hours a day on the ice

Each contestant practises two to three hours a day on the ice and at the end of the week, they run through their routine two or three times. “There’s so much to learn, like the moves and the lifts,” says Dan.

“As the week goes on, there’s a camera block, where each contestant runs their routine two or three times to camera. That’s also used as a rehearsal for them to get used to their surroundings and performance zone. A film crew is with them most of the time throughout the week to capture any standout moments.”

Mark adds that another two hours can be added on to rehearsals off the ice.

“You double those two hours on the ice rehearsing off it – practising choreography and lifts. Ice skating is also very mentally stressful because it requires so much focus, as you’re constantly at risk of danger. So spending even two hours rehearsing on the ice is very exhausting.”

Panel's hidden blankets

The judges all have blankets on their laps under the desks, reveals Mark.

“I think Oti in particular really struggles with the cold and they have blankets under the judges’ panel to stay warm.

“Luckily, the rink isn’t as cold as a normal rink because of the studio lighting, so it’s not as cold as people may think.”

Dan adds that the atmosphere is “electric” moments before going live. He says, “There’s a real buzz in the air and everybody’s wanting the show to be amazing. When you’ve finished, it fills your soul because you put so much work in.”

Mark adds, “Holly and Phil always come and chit-chat with us during the ad breaks. I think Holly has been quite vocal about how she’d never do the show because she recognises how much work it is. She’s super-keen to show her respect for any celeb who takes part.”

Time to get a grip

Dan says the skaters can’t live without firm-grip spray to prevent sweaty hands.

“When you get nervous, you get sweaty and can lose your grip for the lifts, so we spray our hands with firm grip. There’s a ban on lotions or potions like moisturiser or shimmer because as soon as your hand goes on them, it becomes slippy and no one wants that just before a headbanger.”

Mark adds, “When you’re doing lifts, you don’t want your partner’s skin to be too moisturised, otherwise you could drop them and it’d be really dangerous.

“We have cans of firm grip spray everywhere, which causes things to become sticky. I’ve been on the show for 10 years and still get sweaty hands before I go on to the ice, so applying that means I’m less likely to cause an accident.”

Lucky pants and socks

Judges Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean have a superstition with their guards – the protective cover that goes over your skates.

Dan reveals, “They like to put them next to each other and line them up in a certain way. It’s important to them.”

But Dan is also superstitious – and ensures he’s wearing his lucky underpants and socks during the group skates. He admits, “I’ve got a few holes in my socks, they’ve been sewn up that many times!”

Meanwhile, Mark says he tries hard to help a celeb focus on their performance rather than items to bring luck.

He says, “Some celebrities are superstitious and believe that something else is responsible for their luck and feelings, so you have to try to keep them in the moment and make them realise that despite the nerves, being on the show should be an amazing experience full of fun.”


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