Phillip Schofield reveals a big format change for Dancing on Ice

The host tells RadioTimes.com about the "hard time" Christine Bleakley had presenting the show, and why Dancing on Ice was always going to come back

Dancing On Ice 2018 (Getty, FT)

Phillip Schofield has revealed the changes that were “essential” to bringing back Dancing on Ice to ITV after a four-year absence.

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Previous series of the celebrity skating show – which returns in January – aired the main episode on a Sunday night, followed by a break for another programme before returning for the Skate Off results show.

However, speaking to RadioTimes.com and other press, Phillip said that one of the “mistakes” the previous incarnation of the show made was the late end time. He has now revealed that the Skate Off has been scrapped and that instead the show will begin at around 6pm on a Sunday night and run straight through for two hours.

“There is no skate-off – it’s all wrapped up in the same show. So for me, that was an essential thing that we got right,” Phillip said. “It’s a two-hour, compact show that your family can sit down and watch and it’s wrapped up at a sensible time.”

Phillip has also said there will be “big, big screens” as well as projections on the ice to give a “fully immersive” scene that the celebrities and their professional partners will perform in front of. “I think it will be sensational,” he commented.

Although Holly Willoughby was the original host of Dancing on Ice, she left after series six to present The Voice UK on the BBC. Phillip says that he insisted she was replaced with Christine Bleakley.

Phillip Schofield and Christine Bleakley
Phillip Schofield and Christine Bleakley (Getty)

“I loved doing it with Christine,” he said. “I said Christine was the only person I want to do it with, and she came in and she was given such a hard time at the time and she really struggled.

“And what I wanted everybody to realise was she is not only an incredibly accomplished broadcaster but she is one of the nicest people I have ever met in my life. There is nobody in television who is more thoughtful than Christine Bleakley. Which is why when it was announced that Holly was coming back to do the show, the first person was Christine who texted and said ‘oh my God, this is so exciting – please tell me I can come and watch.’”

The This Morning presenter also revealed that he and co-host Holly have been talking about Dancing on Ice returning “for years”.

“We are very good at keeping secrets,” he laughs. “We were talking about bringing Dancing on Ice back a year after it came off air. So this has been discussed for years and I think it’d be safe to say that from two years ago, it was always going to come back.

Dancing on Ice 2018 logo

“The changes we’ve made are essential to giving it a reboot,” he added. “It’s not a relaunch or a revamp – it’s fundamentally different to the way we did it before and it’s all the things I’ve wanted it to be.”

Phillip is also hoping that there will be microphones placed at the side of the rink to capture the sound of the blades scraping on the ice.

When you’re standing beside the rink, the noise of this cold blade on the ice… No other show has that and it got to the point where I said that very loudly in a meeting: ‘why can’t we hear the blades on the ice?’ So hopefully we’ll have got that this year because I’ve been banging on about that for a very long time!”

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Dancing on Ice returns to ITV in January