09/10/2019 07:41 BST

Dancing On Ice Beats Strictly To Be The First Dance Show To Feature A Same-Sex Couple

The ITV celebrity ice skating show returns in the new year.

The new series of Dancing On Ice will feature a same-sex couple for the first time.

Steps star Ian ‘H’ Watkins will be paired with professional dancer Matt Evers on the ITV ice skating show when it returns to our screens in January.

It is understood that H asked about the possibility of being paired with a male professional, which the production team was “fully supportive” of.

Ian 'H' Watkins

The 43-year-old singer will be joined on the 2020 series of Dancing On Ice by celebrities including businesswoman Caprice Bourret, TV presenter Trisha Goddard, magician Ben Hanlin, former professional footballer Kevin Kilbane and newsreader Lucrezia Millarini.

Love Island star Maura Higgins, Michael Barrymore and Joe Swash will also compete, with soap actress Lisa George, Scottish Paralympic sprinter Libby Clegg and Diversity star Perri Kiely also taking part.

This year's Dancing On Ice celebrity hopefuls.

The pairing comes after years of speculation that same-sex couples would feature on a TV dance competition.

Earlier this year, the BBC revealed it had changed its stance on featuring same-sex pairings on Strictly Come Dancing.

Dancing On Ice presenters Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby.

The Beeb had previously insisted they had “no plans” to break from what they described as the “longstanding ballroom dancing format of mixed-sex couples”.

But in August, a BBC spokesperson confirmed they’re now “completely open” to the idea.

A Strictly rep said: “Strictly Come Dancing is an inclusive show and we are proud to have featured same-sex dancing amongst the professional dancers in group numbers in previous series.

“We are completely open to the prospect of including same-sex pairings between our celebrities and professional dancers in the future, should the opportunity arise.”

However, the show’s former Head Judge, Len Goodman, claimed he would be “okay” with the idea if it was “done in a very tasteful way”, but likes the competition “how it was”.