NEXT year, it will be a quarter of a century since we watched in awe as Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean glided across the ice to the strains of Ravel’s Bolero, gaining themselves an unrivalled perfect score for artistic impression and a gold medal in the process.
The stunning display at the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics made the pair overnight stars, and all these years later no British ice skaters have come close to replicating their success.
However, Torvill and Dean themselves are now winning over a whole new generation of skating fans thanks to the smash-hit ITV1 show, Dancing On Ice.
The renewed fame has all come as something of a surprise to Jayne, who was living quietly with her family in Sussex when the TV producers came knocking.
“It has been great for us because we had retired a few years ago,” she says.
“Initially, we were just asked to choreograph the routines, then they said will you do them on screen? Then they said would you do them to music and eventually we were doing full routines.
“We started off tentatively, but really enjoyed getting back into it again, and we are thoroughly enjoying having the second chance to carry on skating.”
Now a mother-of-two, Jayne, 50, admits that when they first signed up to do the show it took a while to get her body back into the punishing routine of ice skating.
“We don’t live near an ice rink, so I wasn’t really skating,” she says. “Chris lives in America and near an ice rink and I know he had been doing some coaching and choreographing and was on the ice more than I was. It took a little while to get back into shape, there were a few aches and pains at first – there are bound to be – but the pleasure of doing it outweighed that.
“Having worked together for so many years (they first paired up in 1975) the connection that Chris and I had came back pretty easily, so we have really enjoyed doing it again.”
Last year, the success of Dancing On Ice, the TV show, was translated into a live nationwide arena tour, a feat that has been repeated for this year’s series, which lands at the Echo Arena, Liverpool, tonight.
Stars from this series, former Hear’say star Suzanne Shaw – who was crowned the eventual queen of the ice following a breathtaking display – Hollyoaks’ actor Chris Fountain, Gareth Gates, Zaraah Abrams and Linda Lusardi, are joined by favourites from previous series including Kieran Bracken, Bonnie Langford, Claire Buckfield and David Seaman to skate it out.
As with the TV show, where the ice panel give their opinions and the all-important marks out of six, in the end it is up to the audience to decide who is the winner, this time by text vote.
Says Jayne: “It’s great fun, but because the standard is so high, come the evening when we have the competition, that is pretty fierce. Everyone really wants to get the chance to be in the skate-off to win the final, and it is exciting for the audience because it is a different show every night.”
With dangerous moves like the notorious headbanger, there is always scope for injury in the shows – Suzanne Shaw fared quite badly while filming the TV series, chipping a bone in her ankle and at one point gashing the back of her head on a skate blade.
But Jayne, who started ice skating at the age of 14, going on to give up her job as an insurance clerk to skate full time in 1980, says every precaution is taken to keep everyone safe.
“There are always one or two injuries but we do travel with a physio who keeps us all together,” she says. “There is an element of danger in ice skating. I think that people like to watch the jeopardy. But we do treat it very seriously and we never push people to do things that we think are too dangerous. However, there is always that danger there, not only to the celebrities but the professional skaters, too.”
Jayne adds: “When we did the first series on TV, we didn’t know whether it would work, but it really took off and has even encouraged more people to start skating. I think ice skating has a special quality that is almost magical to watch when it is done properly, but at the same time there is that sporting element to it as well.
“It is also nice to see people with the lovely costumes and the make-up and the glamour that goes with it – people can really relate to it.”
So, with more of us taking to the ice, does Jayne think that a British skating pair might once again find a place on the winners’ podium at the Winter Olympics?
“Hopefully, with this renewed interest, we will. We have got some young ones starting out now and in a few years’ time we might see somebody coming up through the ranks, whether that be in figure skating or ice dancing. I hope so.”
* DANCING On Ice is at the Echo Arena, Liverpool, from tonight until Monday.