Jason Gardiner isn’t up for the idea of axed ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ pro Brendan Cole joining the ‘Dancing On Ice’ panel, claiming it would look like the ITV show was getting the BBC’s “sloppy seconds”.
It had been reported ‘DOI’ bosses were eyeing Brendan up to join the panel of the skating competition, after he was let go from his role as a professional on rival show ‘Strictly’ after 14 years last month.
But speaking to HuffPost UK, Jason has dismissed the suggestion, claiming it would be a bad move for ‘Dancing On Ice’ to sign him.
“It would probably mean that mine or Ashley [Banjo]’s job is out of it then, because they’re not going to have five judges,” he told us. “But who knows?
“Brendan is a ballroom dancer - he’s not a choreographer and his dancing vocabulary is very limited in that sense, because it’s specific to ballroom dance.”
In his typically acid-tongued style, Jason continued: “I don’t know if it would be the best move of ITV to employ somebody who’s been rejected from the court of dancing on the BBC, because then it would look like they were getting their sloppy seconds.”
However, he admitted he had a certain level of sympathy for Brendan, having himself been axed from ‘Dancing On Ice’ in 2012, and replaced by Louie Spence, only to return a year later.
“I do [have sympathy], it’s not nice to be castaway from a show that you were instrumental in building up, but that’s the industry,” Jason said.
“You have to have a thick skin and you have to move on with good grace - I most certainly did.
“They went with Louie and the show suffered because of it, and they invited me back. What more is there to say?”
Jason also aired his views on one of the changes to this year’s series, which has seen the professional skaters choreographing their routines for the first time, having previously been given them by now-judges Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean.
He admitted it has been a “bone of contention”, as while he believed it “adds a different dynamic” to the competition, he claimed some of the routines had been substandard.
“Before, I could only talk about how they executed it. Whereas this time, I can talk about it and I’ve been very vocal about it - I think a lot of it just hasn’t been up to scratch,” he explained.
“That’s because a lot of the pros, and they may be great skaters, but that doesn’t allow them the ability to be creative choreographers. That’s a very different space that somebody inhabits to create beautiful routines.”
While he praised Donna Air’s partner Mark Hanretty, and Hamish Gaman, who was paired with Perri Shakes-Drayton, he made a jibe at some of the other eliminated pros who have been less open to his feedback.
Jason said: “We only get a finite time to make our points on the show, but then anything we don’t get to and I feel I need to follow up with, I will talk to the pros and I will extrapolate on my point, and most of them are really appreciative of it, and the ones that aren’t are no longer in the competition!
“Attitude is really important, and that’s the celebs through to the pros. If they can’t take the criticism and work with it and improve every week, then you’re not going to stay in.
“It’s in their best interest to understand where it’s coming from.”
And while Jason has still been catty on the rebooted version of the show, he hasn’t recreated any clashes as controversial as his showdowns with former judge Karen Barber.
The pair rowed on various occasions during their time on the show’s original run, but Jason claimed he has reigned in his barbed comments due to viewers’ changing sensitivities.
“The show has evolved into is exactly what it should be,” he said. “The climate has changed around TV and the sensitivities of people now - I don’t think we would get away with it, there would be such an uproar. There would be outrage and it would be pulled off air.
“It is a family show and everything is so PC now and we couldn’t get away with what we did back in the day.”
He added: “It’s the strongest panel we’ve had. Nobody can fault the credentials of anyone that’s on there - we all know what we’re talking about.
“To be working with Jane and Chris in this capacity has been great to really get to know them better as people and form a strong unit on the panel. Having Ashley as well has strengthened the dance / choreographic part of the show.
“Before, I was the only voice who was flying that flag, but now it’s 2:2.”
One former judge who Jason is still good pals with is Emma Bunton, who served on the panel from 2010 to 2011.
And it seemed she had filled him in on the upcoming plans for the much-hyped Spice Girls reunion - not that he could be drawn on the details, though.
“Oh, you know what, I’m not allowed to talk about it,” he said. “I’m not allowed to talk about anything like that because a) it’s not my place to tell and b) Emma’s a mate, so I’m going to keep you hanging on that one.”
What a tease.
Turning his attention to the ‘Dancing On Ice’ final, Jason, who is currently gearing up for a West End role in ‘Ruthless: The Musical’, tipped former ‘X Factor’ star Jake Quickenden for glory, but claimed Love Island’s Kem Cetinay is one to watch.
“Jake has done very well so far, and if he keeps applying what he’s doing and improving every week we may see him in the final,” he said. “But it also comes down to how the public votes, and there’s no denying Kem has a huge following because of ‘Love Island’.
“He’s actually great and he’s got oodles of personality and he’s a great natural showman - that coupled with improving with his skating could make him quite a contender.”
‘Dancing On Ice’ continues on Sunday at 6pm on ITV.