Pro-skater Matt Evers is a Dancing On Ice legend, having appeared since its first ever series in 2006, when he was partnered with showbiz royalty Bonnie Langford. So when Bobby Norris caught up with his pal he reveals he couldn’t be more proud to have played such a big part in the hit show.
“It’s the perfect family entertainment show and always has been,” he says. “When I meet people on the street, they all say, ‘Thank you for what you do, because it’s an hour out of the week where the entire family sits down to watch something.’”
The 44-year-old American has been isolating in London, away from his home in Los Angeles, but has been keeping in touch with his family more than ever.
“I have a weekly FaceTime session with my friends down at the beach in LA,” he says. “It’s nice that through all of this I have communicated with my family a lot more than I typically would. There are some silver linings.”
Here, Matt reflects to new! magazine on his Dancing On Ice career, the trolling he’s received and making history as part of the first ever same-sex partnering on a UK dance show…
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Hi Matt! So are plans for the next series of Dancing On Ice on hold?
At the minute the series is still full steam ahead. ITV is planning on it being on at the same time. What has been really nice about this situation is that all of the channels are working together. They’ve written new guidelines for production, keeping social distancing in mind and making sure there aren’t mass gatherings with audiences. So the likes of Strictly and Dancing On Ice may not have live audiences. But ITV is adamant it still wants to create entertainment, because as humans we need it.
We so do! Do you always want to win the show?
My motivation is never to win. There have been a couple of times when you step on the ice on the first day and you’re like, “Hmm, I could potentially win with this person.” Pamela Anderson, for instance. She was a huge booking for Dancing On Ice – one of the most famous women on the planet – and she was a really good skater. But we went out in week one! So you never really know with this show. Sometimes it’s the popular person and sometimes it’s the technical person.
You really take people on a journey, don’t you?
Yeah, like sports people who’ve never worn Lycra before. I had to teach Candice Brown where the cameras were and how to curtsey. And you’ve got people like Lisa Scott-Lee and Suzanne Shaw who are brilliant entertainers, but you put them on the ice and they’re not used to that environment. It is really rewarding. Look at Denise Welch after Dancing On Ice – she realised she had a [drinking] problem and she’s been sober ever since. And people have found love – although I’m still waiting for mine [laughs].
Your time will come, babe. You made history by partnering with H from Steps. Did you know from the off that it was something you wanted to do?
Oh, 100 per cent. I was worried about the trolls, because when you first do something you are susceptible to negativity. But I knew the outreach would be greater than anything I’d ever done before. And there were only a few dozen complaints. Other than that it was nothing but love and positivity.
There shouldn’t have been one complaint! Did you or Ian receive any online abuse?
I know Ian did. People called him a “f****t” and said, “It’s disgusting that you’re putting this in front of my children.” My fans understand my life and who I am, so I only received two or three tweets and it was nothing severe or violent, like what you have to deal with, Bobby. I had so much more trolling when I skated with Gemma Collins [in 2019]. I’d block 100 people a day!
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People would say, “How do you deal with that fat ****? She’s vile!” I was like, “You don’t know this person.” Gemma’s the first to admit she can be difficult, but she always delivered and would always apologise if she hurt anyone’s feelings. The older she gets, the more she realises how your behaviour has reactions and consequences. I never saw a nasty side to her. She always came into work, albeit late, and gave it her all. The proof was in the pudding, because she came back to do the Christmas special. Her stint on the show was a bit of a resurrection for her. Her perfume launch and show Diva Forever came off the back of it.
Would you prefer a male or female partner next series?
I’m going to go for a Border collie [laughs]! In the 13 series I’ve had older, younger, male, female and amputee partners. I’m grateful for what I do and I’ve never said to the production team, “This is what I want.” When you mess with fate it can work against you. Whoever I get, I make the best of it. If it’s another man, great!
Do you think Strictly should follow in Dancing On Ice’s footsteps with a same-sex coupling?
Of course and I’ve heard they’re looking at it. And because of the success of RuPaul’s Drag Race here in the UK, they’re also looking at having a drag queen competing. The world of entertainment shows is now starting to open up and look at why queer content is popular.
Would being a professional skater give you an advantage if you did Strictly?
Bobby, have you seen me dance?! I would have no more advantage than a footballer. I’d love to get into a situation in the next couple of years where I could do a show like Strictly – something where I could learn a new skill.
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You wouldn’t say no to Strictly then?
I wouldn’t. It excites me a lot to push myself out of my comfort zone. Learning a new skill like ballroom would be awesome.
Who would your dream celebrity partner be on Dancing On Ice?
The actress Emilia Clarke. I’m a huge fan. And you, Bobby – we’d have an absolute blast!
Can you imagine us on the ice?!
It would be a disaster! Outside the celebrity realm, I lost my mum to cancer when I was 17. I’d love to wave a magic wand and have a little skate with her as she never got to see me skate in person.
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