Bottoms and Bolero – We chat with Torvill and Dean

by Karen Shaw

Legendary skating duo Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean are reunited with original hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby on the show that sees celebrity skaters take to the ice in a bid to dance and dazzle their way to glory. It’s been a busy start to 2018 for this pair and it shows no signs of ceasing, as soon as Dancing On Ice is over they’ll be preparing for the Dancing On Ice UK Tour in March. Despite their busy schedules they managed to spare me a few moments to chat Northern Life magazine about bottoms and Bolero!

Torvill and Dean1984 was a good year. I had just entered my teens, Relax by Frankie Goes To Hollywood was at number one in the charts, my mum had just acquired a Brother knitting machine and had ‘knitted’ me a selection of ‘jumper dresses’ with batwing sleeves and the UK won a gold medal for ice-skating at the Winter Olympics.

Over the noise of my mum’s grating knitting machine, I can remember the familiar tune Bolero blasting out of the TV as Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean skated their way to success. Before seeing them in action, the thought of ice-skating, literally made my blood ‘run cold’ (excuse the pun). After my first chilly trip to Bradford Ice Arena the previous year, I’d spent most of my time resembling Bambi, feeling that at any given moment my ankles would snap, and then there was the thought that I would return home fingerless after falling and having them sliced off by a passing skater. I lived to tell the tale with fingers firmly intact…

“You need to get your arms out of the way as generally you put your hands down, it’s better to fall on your bum, it serves as a good cushion,” advises Chris, “you tend to get broken wrists or a rotator cuffs. It’s better to fall on your bum.”

“After my first chilly to trip to Bradford Ice Arena the previous year, I’d spent most of my time resembling Bambi”

Nodding, I agree, my bum would serve me well in cushioning the fall, but my suggestion of wrapping myself in a duvet whilst wearing stone mittens, I believe is inspired. Chris and Jayne don’t seem convinced. And after all, they should know, it would be fair to say that this world championship winning pair are accomplished ice skaters and unlike me they’re prepared to take risks…

“We had won three world championships by the time the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics came around, so we were able to take a real risk. Jayne and I knew our choice of Ravel’s Boléro would be seen as radical,” says Chris. And radical it was, with their bat–wings sleeves (not dissimilar to mine) and an audience of 24 million they glided onto the ice and made the sport cool becoming the highest scoring figure skaters of all time. Thirty-three years on this pair continue to be national treasures with the recent return of ITV’s Dancing On Ice and an upcoming live UK tour in March, 2018 is going to be a busy one. On the tour they’ll be returning to the ice after a fouryear break from skating, hosting while also taking up their new roles of head judges.

“We’re excited,” says Chris, “taking a break from TV has made us really keen to get back at it.”

When I enquire what they’ve been up to for the past few years, he replies, “well we did a couple of pantomimes.”

To which, I can’t help but reply: “Oh no, you didn’t!” “Oh yes we did!” laughs Chris.  I’ve also been working with a lot of competitive skaters choreographing and I’ve got several going to the 2018 Olympics in February,” continues Chris, “we’ve got a great team. I don’t think they’ll win a medal, but they’ll be up there.”

With a new TV format this year, the tour has also had a ‘facelift’.

“Like in the TV show, the tour will have similarities, the first half will be a competition between the celebrities and we’ll be judging. Then the audience will text vote and then there’ll be a ‘skate off ’. The second half you’ll see them ‘let their hair down’, it’s the free and easy half. You get the experience of Dancing On Ice but then you get the exhibitions as well,” says Chris.

“We enjoy all aspects of the shows, because it’s all different. We both come from the creative side of skating but at the same time we enjoy presenting on the tour and we love
performing. We’re lucky that we have the opportunity to do all of those things.”

Chris, a former policeman and Jayne, an insurance clerk, left their careers to pursue a joint passion. Jayne’s desire for figure skating occurred when she visited an ice rink on a school trip, “I fell in love,” she smiles – and for Chris? “My step-mother bought me ice skates for Christmas. At the time I lived in a little village and she saw it as a way to get me out of the village and into the big town. For the first two weeks, I just walked around the house in them.” In the last show TV host of Dancing On Ice, Phillip Schofield donned his ice skates and attempted to skate, so I wondered if he had any more plans to attempt a triple salko, or perhaps mirror Torvill and Dean’s winning Bolero routine with his copresenter Holly Willoughby.

“Holly wasn’t on the show before, so she’s not been on the ice. She’s always pregnant,” laughs Chris.

“We’re really close and the best of friends, we’ve grown up together, we’re like brother and sister”

The Bolero piece is 18 minutes long, but the pair was only allowed four minutes on the ice. Their music producer edited down the music to 4.28, but couldn’t chop it without changing the tempo and crescendo. That’s why their memorable opening of the piece involved so many balletics, they weren’t allowed to so much as put a skate anywhere the near the ice, the stopwatch began the moment they started skating. “Watch carefully: we kick off on our knees, and our blades don’t hit the ice for several bars…” chuckles Chris.

The secret of their success is that they are able to find a way around most things, and the four minute skating rule didn’t hinder their performance, it enhanced it.

“Competitive wise, it’s changed quite a bit, says Jayne, “they have a completely different scoring system now.”

“I have to say, nowadays, the standards are amazing,” interrupts Chris, “with the speed over the ice and the technical lifts. Having said that there are so many rules and regulations that it becomes so complicated for the audience at home to watch.”

Whatever happened to their rather ‘Liberachi’ style, snazzy purple outfits, are they hiding away in the back of the wardrobe? Do they wear them at home on weekends?

“Not Saturdays, sometimes Sundays!” giggles Chris. “No, they’re in a museum in Nottingham,” Jayne replies in a sensible manner.

Big devotees of Fred and Ginger, Chris and Jayne, have brought style and glamour to the ice rink, so I wondered if they’d be happy to swap the rink for a dance hall…Strictly speaking …

“We performed on Strictly for Children In Need, a couple of years ago,” says Jayne, “so we’ve done a kind of condensed version.”

How about – ‘I’m A Celebrity…’? Does that appeal?

“No!” she shrieks.

These two enjoy banter, and it’s evident that after over 40 years of working together they have forged a strong relationship, they’re both only children; yet to listen to them you’d believe water was thicker than blood. “We’re really close and the best of friends, we’ve grown up together, says Chris, “we’re like brother and sister. I think the reason we’re still good friends is we never got married, we understand each other and we know what each other is thinking. I think we’re a little easier on each other these days.”

Dancing On Ice Live is touring the UK from March 23rd until April 15th 2018, for tickets and venues please visit