Sunday, March 16

Review: Dancing on Ice: The Final

Dancing on Ice was beautiful but hideous like the cinematography on The Elephant Man, says Mark Lewis

As a phone voting vehicle for the dancing skills of little known celebrities from some of the most moronic programmes on television, Dancing on Ice: The Final (Sunday, 7pm ITV1) is begging to be loathed. And it is.

But it is popular, and it has its charms. So let me be fair for just a couple of paragraphs: Chris Fountain, star of idiot’s soap, Hollyoaks, can properly boogy for a big lad. He is elegant despite his size, magnanimous in victory and graceful in defeat. Suzanne Shaw, former Hear’Say victim and victim of Darren Day love rattery was brave and beautiful throughout. She soared electrifyingly in a her harness, her routine capturing a maximum 30 points from the obligatory panel of judges.

It was the first time in the history of Dancing on Ice anyone had got a 30. Then she did it again. The ‘Ice Panel’ gushed. In the audience her son cried ecstatic tears for mummy. And on a sofa in London a hard heart melted for the briefest of a moments.

But only the briefest. “If you are hosting your own Dancing on Ice party tonight then enjoy,” said Phillip Schofield. Yes, enjoy drinking yourself into fighting mood with cheap sparkling wine and Skol Super, because this programme is aimed at a common denominator lower than a Barry White ballad.

Before multi-channel TV and remote controllers, you could tell a lot about a programme and who it’s aimed at from the adverts during the commercial breaks. And even if nobody watches them any more the advertisements can still perpetrate an effective character assassination. Joss Stone having an affair with a Flake was fairly non-incriminating, but Denise van Outen professing her love of fresh meat on behalf of Morrisons, followed by an ad for Ferrero Rocher was an indictment so damning, only an Ocean Finance commercial could have made its downmarketness any more explicit.

But don’t hate it for that. There is so much more. Patronising its core demographic is ITV1’s prerogative, but commissioning this again will continue to be a stain on the pyjamas of popular TV. Some of the dancing was stunning; Jane Torville and Christopher Dean can still do a bit; and Schofield and Holly Willoughby are nice looking and professional. But Dancing on Ice is tedious, formulaic and derivative. It is as different from Strictly Come dancing as Coke is from Pepsi.

Suzanne Shaw won incidentally.

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