A touch of frost at today’s Dancing On Ice finalists press conference.
Not between Suzanne Shaw, Chris Fountain and Zaraah Abrahams.
No evidence of all that nonsense in the tabloids about backstage tension, which was also denied by all three this morning.
But the atmosphere did turn a little icy when judge Jason Gardiner was asked which one of them deserved to win.
He returned to the issue of bookmakers’ favourite Chris’s ice hockey experience, with the Hollyoaks star sat just a few feet away.
Happily, there was much more to report from all three finalists.
There’s a feature on Pg 9 of tomorrow’s MEN – I’ll post a link here when it goes online.
Update: The online version is here.
I note it’s already being reported elsewhere that Jason’s “attack” on Chris today means he doesn’t think he deserves to win.
Well, make up your own mind.
Here’s my transcript from that slightly frosty section of the event at ITV’s South Bank building in London, with contributions from Jason, fellow judge Nicky Slater and Chris himself.
Jason: “I’m probably going to make somebody quite angry here. But Chris has had an unfair advantage with the skating. He was able to ice skate. For me, what has been so impressive is seeing people who have never ever skated before reaching a level that, say, Suzanne and Zaraah have got to.
“I think Chris has had to work incredibly hard at smoothing over his rough edges and becoming more refined and being able to dance on ice. But I think he has had an unfair advantage of being able to conquer the ice because he doesn’t have the same fear that the girls had to overcome.”
Nicky: “When it started off, Chris was my favourite because he looked head and shoulders above everybody else. We were looking at that and thinking, ‘Gosh, how is that going to pan out?’
“But in Dancing On Ice, people progress. And so Suzanne has this fantastic ability and poise and elegance on the ice with Matt. That looks great. Zaraah, to me, you’ve just surprised me. Last week, I didn’t think you would be here because of the nerves. And you skated beautifully. So she has this great upper body movement and an ability to skate.
“So, Chris needs to pull it off. He can’t afford to make mistakes. Nobody can afford to make mistakes. And that’s what, to me, makes it exciting. People say, ‘Who’s going to win?’ And I wouldn’t put a bet on because I don’t know. That’s great for the show, that we never know.”
Jason: “Chris has to work on his connection with his partner. The other two that he’s up against have a wonderful connection with their partner and Chris hasn’t.
“It’s wide open. The people that we have in the final deserve to be there. They bring something unique to the ice, they’re all very different and I’m glad that we don’t actually have the final say.”
Chris: “I’m not going to say it’s completely untrue because I could skate when I did the competition. But I think I’ve tried some really difficult stuff. I don’t feel like I’ve pushed myself less than anybody else. I don’t feel like I’ve sat back on my experience and gone, ‘Right, I can do the easy routine and I can just sail my way through it.’ I’ve really pushed myself to try and deliver a really exciting performance that’s got a wow factor. I just tried to do my best. I came down to do the audition for the show and if they thought I could skate too well, I’m sure they wouldn’t have allowed me in the competition.”
Nicky: “Hockey skating is different to figure skating, it’s different to dancing. And Chris’s challenge is to actually dance with a partner and to relate. He’s great on his own but he has to put it together with Frankie. And that’s what I’ve been wanting to see more and more. And it’s coming.”
Earlier in the series, Jason had threatened to walk out if Greg Rusedski reached the final.
He was asked today if he was relieved, and replied:
“I knew that Greg wouldn’t make it because at the end of the day the British public do vote the right people through, and that’s what we have here today. We’ve got three very strong finalists and they all deserve to be in the final and it’s going to be a dynamic one.”
*Dancing On Ice: The Final is on ITV1 at 7pm this Sunday
The Final Test Of Icy Nerve