5,6,7,8, was Ian Watkins born to skate? That’s the question we’ll be asking as the Steps star, often known as ‘H’, competes for the Dancing on Ice 2020 title.
The founding member of the ’90s pop group is taking on 11 other celebs in this year’s competition, trying to impress viewers and judges Ashley Banjo, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean and newcomer John Barrowman.
But who exactly is he? And how much skating experience does he have? Here’s everything you need to know about the first skater to compete in a same-sex couple on Dancing on Ice…
Dancing On Ice 2020: Ian “H” Watkins, Key Facts
Known for: Being a member of the British pop group Steps
Professional dance partner: Matt Evers
Who is Ian Watkins (aka H from Steps)?
Welsh singer Ian Watkins joined Steps in 1997 after auditions for the band were advertised in The Stage newspaper. He was selected as part of the original line-up and survived an early shake-up to the group which saw the departure of three members.
Steps released their first single, 5,6,7,8, in 1997, before releasing their full debut album the following year. It received critical and commercial success, launching the band to international fame.
Capitalising on the intense fandom, Steps released two more albums in the next two years before abruptly breaking up in 2001.
What did Ian Watkins do after Steps broke up?
Watkins teamed up with fellow Steps member Claire Richards for a new project in 2002, simply titled H & Claire. The duo signed with Warner Music for what was rumoured to be a seven-figure, multiple album deal.
However, after their initial singles underperformed and Richards expressed a desire to leave the public eye, the duo were dropped from the record label and split up.
Since the dissolution of his second musical act, Watkins has dabbled in a number of different projects.
In 2005, he was the subject of a reality series titled H-Side Story which followed him as he tried to forge a new acting career while studying at the Royal Academy of Music.
Since then, he has performed on stage in a West End production of Fame, as well as numerous pantomimes including Cinderella and Jack & The Beanstalk.
In 2007, he was a contestant on the fifth series of Celebrity Big Brother and placed fourth overall, behind actor Dirk Benedict (The A-Team), Jermaine Jackson of the Jackson Five, and Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty.
He has returned to Steps for their reunions in 2012 and 2017, the latter of which saw the band release their fifth studio album which reached number two in the UK charts.
Who is Ian Watkins’ same-sex dance partner?
Watkins made Dancing On Ice history by being part of the first same-sex couple to compete on the show.
He is dancing with professional ice skater Matt Evers, who has appeared on every series of Dancing On Ice so far, winning in 2008 with ex-Emmerdale star Suzanne Shaw.
Watkins is openly gay and the inclusion of a same-sex couple on the show has been supported by the LGBT+ community.
BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing has also come under pressure to include same-sex couples recently, with a RadioTimes.com poll on the subject finding our readers split on the matter.
What has H said about being in the first same-sex couple?
Watkins posted an update on his Twitter account saying that he was “totally overwhelmed” by the reaction to his same-sex pairing.
Totally overwhelmed today … I’ll need some time to take it all in !! I’m just totally blown away by your incredible support and messages! Thankyou so much, truly xx ????⛸???? xx #dancingonice2020 #dancingonice #iceskating #iceicebaby #samesexdance #Equality #lgbtq???? #TeamH pic.twitter.com/QGtfMZZAyZ
— Ian H Watkins (@Ianhwatkins) October 9, 2019
With Matt Evers having previously explained he wanted to be in a same-sex couple ‘for years’, Watkins is over the moon to be making history.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com and other journalists at the Dancing on Ice press launch, he explained: “This is so important to me.
“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. It’s been quite an emotional journey.”
Dancing on Ice continues Sundays on ITV