It’s a series of firsts for the 12th edition of Dancing on Ice – it’s the first time the show has been honoured with its very own Christmas special, it’s the first time John Barrowman has been a judge on Dancing on Ice, and it’s the first time the show has seen a same-sex couple compete as a pair.
Ian ‘H from Steps’ Watkins and Matt Evers are the trailblazers in being the first same-sex pairing to compete on UK television, in a move that has seen Dancing on Ice beat its closest BBC rival Strictly Come Dancing.
While Evers has been wanting to have a male skating partner for years, Watkins has also been keen to show same-sex partnerships, reportedly having requested a male partner when he took part on BBC’s celebrity gymnastics competition Tumble.
However, according to 43-year-old Watkins, the BBC were not willing to oblige to his request.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com and other journalists at the Dancing on Ice press launch, he explained: “This is so important to me. I did Tumble several years ago, and I asked the BBC for a same-sex partner then. They said, no, this is not BBC.”
Watkins was eager to be in a same-sex couple for Dancing on Ice, adding he was discussing the move with producers after he signed up for the show.
“When I first suggested this back in the summer, there were conversations that were had, we went back and forth, then I got the green light, and I cried,” he said. “It’s been quite an emotional journey.
“it shows how far we’ve come as people, and do you know what, let’s change the world. If we’re the ones to make a noise about it, let’s do it. So next time, it won’t be an issue.”
Watkins’ comments come after head judges Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean said the pair have a “responsibility” to get their partnership right.
“I think a lot of people will be watching them,” Dean said. “I’m really fascinated to see how they treat the partnership, and what they do with it.”
The BBC declined to comment on Watkins’ claims when approached by RadioTimes.com.
Dancing on Ice launches Sunday 5th January on ITV