Dancing On Ice: 12 Things That Surprised Us When We Sat In The Audience At The Final

All the behind-the-scenes secrets from this year's finale.

After two months of impressive tricks, ridiculous moments and, let’s face it, plenty of behind-the-scenes drama, controversial former Strictly Come Dancing pro James Jordan has been crowned this year’s Dancing On Ice champion.

James beat stiff competition from runner-up Wes Nelson in this year’s live finale, and HuffPost UK was lucky enough to be there while the whole thing went down (seated behind the friends and family of Jason Gardiner, which meant best behaviour at all times).

Here’s what we learned from our day at Dancing On Ice...

So first off, let’s talk about the Dancing On Ice studio

Far from the glitz and glamour you might associate with a live primetime ITV show, the Dancing On Ice studio is a particularly unassuming one. Although it was initially filmed in the same area as shows like Strictly Come Dancing and Big Brother during its first run, when the show returned in 2018 it was rehoused in a purpose-built studio in Bovingdon.

As you approach the studio – the site of a former RAF airfield – there’s nothing around to suggest there’s anything remotely showbiz going on just a short walk away. Here’s an image attendees are sent ahead of time to show them when they’ve arrived at the right place, to highlight what we mean...

ITV

The rink itself is surprisingly teenie

Anyone who’s been to see the taping of a studio-based TV show before will tell you how surprised they are at how small everything is, thanks to clever camera tricks that make everything seem more vast on screen. But the Dancing On Ice studio really does take the biscuit.

Matt Frost/ITV/REX/Shutterstock

Despite what you might think having watched the show, there are only around 200 seats in the studio audience, largely due to the fact only one side of the rink actually has seats along it. So in fact, even though it was the complete opposite end of the ice rink, Gemma Collins’ fall in front of the judges’ table was only a stone’s throw from the tunnel from which contestants emerge at the start of their routines.

The live show is only two hours, but the audience is needed for a *lot* longer than that

For a two-hour live broadcast, we took to our seats just after 4pm, and didn’t leave the studio until a short while after James Jordan lifted his trophy at 8pm.

To keep the audience entertained, as is the case with most studio-based shows, Dancing On Ice has a warm-up man who is there to keep everyone’s spirits up in the long period before the live show starts, but also pops up in ad breaks to chat to members of the crowd, tell dad jokes and, yes, lead everyone in a sing-a-long.

One memorable moment came in one of the ad breaks, where we found ourselves clapping along to Come On Eileen while people around us competed to have a packet of Haribo thrown in their direction (which might not sound like much but after going hours without food or a drink, we were happy when a few Cola Bottles came our way).

The highlight of the warm-up was the always-fabulous Didi Conn

Matt Frost/ITV/REX/Shutterstock

At one point during the warm-up, Didi stepped down from where the rest of the contestants were hanging out (more on that in a second), to lead the crowd in a Grease-inspired Hand Jive, which she later replicated on the ice.

Needless to say, it went down a storm.

The contestants gathered at the side of the ice a long while before the live show started

As it was the final, all of this year’s contestants returned to the competition for one night only, taking to the rink for one last group performance, which saw them replicating their finest moment on the ice.

To help them get into the spirit, they were all seen at the side of the rink in a raised section more than an hour beforehand, laughing and joking together, as well as talking to members of the crowd.

That is, of course, apart from one celebrity, who didn’t join the others until around 10 minutes before going live. We probably don’t need to tell you which one that was, but she got a warm reception from the crowd and fellow contestants all the same.

Not everything you saw in the final went out live

Matt Frost/ITV/REX/Shutterstock

In the interest of saving time, the professionals and finalists’ opening performance was actually recorded ahead of time, around an hour before the show went live. The number was filmed in two parts, with the three competing pairs’ section being completed in one take, and the professionals filming their section twice, so they could really nail it.

Unfortunately, judges Torvill and Dean’s performance with the Dancing On Ice pros was recorded a week earlier, which we were more than a little disappointed about. Instead, in one of the night’s more odd moments, we were shown the performance on a big screen at the same time as it went out on ITV, with the audience asked to applaud and cheer along as if it were actually taking place in front of them.

At this point in time, the production team were putting together the platform on the ice where finalists James Jordan and Wes Nelson would find out who would be crowned winner.

There were a fair few celebrities in attendance

As well as John Barrowman, who was interviewed by Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield during the show, we spotted Paul Chuckle, past champion Beth Tweddle and former X Factor finalist Scarlett Lee in the crowd, as well as Ola Jordan and James Argent, who were there to support James and Gemma respectively.

Matt Frost/ITV/REX/Shutterstock

It was truly a star-studded affair.

We need to point out an unsung Dancing On Ice hero

If you’ve ever wondered how they manage some of those tricky camera shots on Dancing On Ice, it’s thanks to one member of the production crew, who spends most of his time on the ice, wearing a full-body camera, who circles the couples while they’re on the ice.

It’s unfortunate that one of the show’s most adept skaters never actually makes it on screen, so we’re shouting him out now.

That ice is no joke, either

Dancing On Ice has a reputation as one of the more perilous reality shows out there, and that’s no understatement.

In between performances, members of the production crew are seen checking the ice to look out for anything that might endanger the performers, including loose sequins and rhinestones or any cracks left by the previous pairs’ ice skates.

Producers are keen to keep things as fair as possible

Despite what you might have read about reality TV producers having their “favourites”, at Dancing On Ice they’re actually keen to make sure everyone gets equal treatment and air time.

Matt Frost/ITV/REX/Shutterstock

During ad breaks, the crew urged the audience to give everyone equal amounts of applause when the contestants’ phone numbers were read out and highlights were shown, to ensure there was no favouritism taking place.

We were also told to applaud and cheer as much as possible for anything that took our fancy (as well as booing any of the judges whose verdicts we disagreed with).

There’s a lot of running around for Holly and Phil

Despite the aforementioned tiny studio, that doesn’t mean there’s not a lot of running around behind the scenes for hosts Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield.

Each time they present a link, they’re in a different location, which means that during the ad breaks, they’re often mid-jog from one end of the rink to the other.

Matt Frost/ITV/REX/Shutterstock

For the final, Holly’s family were also in attendance, and during one of the ad breaks, she was seen laughing and singing with her three children in the audience, which was as adorable as it sounds.

The couples practise right until the last minute

And we mean that literally. More or less as soon as the cameras were off, Wes and Vanessa were out on the ice getting ready for their Peter Pan-inspired routine, which included powdering his hands and her feet to make sure the headbanger move went as smoothly as possible

Similarly, Saara and Hamish were also out on the rink during the ad breaks, running through trickier aspects of their performance one last time before they had to go out live to the nation.

c.20thC.Fox/Everett/Rex/Shutterstock/OWN/Channel 4/Ray Tang/Rex/Shutterstock
These truly are the best of the worst...
'There's Something About Miriam'
Back in 2003, 'There's Something About Miriam' hit the airwaves. A dating show with a difference, the titular Miriam dated six different men over a period of time before revealing to them all that she was transgender.

After filming ended, the six men who took part in the show filed a lawsuit against producers, accusing them of conspiracy to commit sexual assault, defamation, breach of contract and psychological and emotional damage.

It was also blasted by critics, with some accusing the Sky One show of reinforcing stereotypes about trans people, and exploiting an important issue.
'I Wanna Marry Harry'
The premise of this completely ridiculous show was that a group of American women were flown to the UK, where they competed for the affections of a man they were led to believe was Prince Harry, but was actually a look-a-like.

Eventual winner Kimberly Birch later hit out at the show, claiming the girls all knew that 'Prince Harry' was an imposter, but were manipulated into thinking they were just being paranoid by producers, who urged doubters to speak to a fake therapist for reassurance.
'Playing It Straight'
OTT and mildly offensive, 'Playing It Straight' saw one woman having to whittle down a group of 12 single men, with the unfortunate obstacle that six of them are hiding the fact that they're gay.

The E4 show was eventually won by former Mr Gay UK Ben Harris, who opted to split the prize money with the show's leading lady, Zoe.
'Being Bobby Brown'
'Being Bobby Brown' marked Whitney Houston's move from Grammy-winning voice of a generation to the side-kick in a Bravo reality show, the highlight of which was this infamous scene.
'Shattered'
A reality show where contestants are truly pushed to their limits, the participants in 'Shattered' were required to stay awake for a full week in a bid to win £100,000.

What Channel 4 hadn't banked on, though, was quite how dull this would be for viewers.
'Dapper Laughs: On The Pull'
More than one person at ITV2 gave this programme the thumbs up. In fact, a string of people thought this was a good idea. Something to think about.
'CelebAir'
When you start running out of skills celebrities can learn as part of a TV show, you have to think outside the box, and that's exactly what the producers of 'CelebAir' did when they came up with a show that would see a host of C-listers training to become cabin crew members.
'Flockstars'
No, but seriously. Who gave the green-light to a show where Fazer from N-Dubz, Tony Blackburn and Brendan Cole herd up a load of sheep?

Of course, the involvement of Leslie Joseph meant we still watched every episode...
'Lindsay'
"Cut the bullshit"
"'K"

One of the finest exchanges in reality TV history.

What was so unbelievable about 'Lindsay' wasn't that the former wild child got her own reality show (forgive us, docuseries ), but just how uneventful it was.
'Cheaters'
A show where people catch their philandering partners in the act... with an entire camera crew behind them, and Clark James Gable quizzing them about how they feel.

Running mascara and a few torn-out hair extensions later, and hey presto, you've got yourself a reality show.
'Totally Jodie Marsh'
This MTV reality series saw Jodie Marsh choosing a spouse from a group of eligible bachelors, eventually plumping for the ex-boyfriend of her rival, Katie Price (funny, that).

In 2015, she admitted she was "ashamed" of the show, describing it as "the worst period of her life".
'Bridalplasty'
People love bridal shows, and people love shows about plastic surgery. Put 'em together and what have you got..?
'Peter Andre's Bad Boyfriends Club'
A reality show entirely dependent on the premise that Peter Andre is the perfect boyfriend.

Sure thing.
'Princess Nikki'
E4's attempt to turn post-'Big Brother' Nikki Grahame into the UK's answer to Paris Hilton, with this British spin on 'The Simple Life'. It was actually comic genius, which sadly only ran for one series.
'Temptation Island'
What better way to test your relationship than to head to two separate private islands with a load of people you fancy, get plied with alcohol and just let the cameras see what happened?

Surprisingly, 'Temptation Island' was a smash the world over, with editions airing in the UK, America, Australia, Italy, Spain, Russia, Romania THE LIST TRULY DOES GO ON.