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Phillip Schofield is clearly thrilled that Dancing on Ice is beating Strictly to introduce the first same-sex dance couple

PinkNews reporter December 19, 2019

Dancing on Ice hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby (Karwai Tang/WireImage/Getty)

Dancing on Ice host Phillip Schofield is thrilled the show will be introducing its first same-sex dancing couple – and even more thrilled to have beaten Strictly to the post.

The openly-gay former Steps member Ian ‘H’ Watkins and professional skater Matt Evers will be the first-ever same-sex couple to compete on the popular ice dancing show in 2020.

Commenting on the show’s change of format, Schofield couldn’t help but draw comparisons with similar competitive dancing show Strictly Come Dancing.

“What’s lovely about same-sex couples is that it’s a big deal this year and then, whether Strictly or whoever does it next year, it won’t be such a big deal,” Phillip said on ITV’s This Morning.

“What we are more interested in is the dynamics of skating and how they work together.”

His co-host Holly Willoughby added: “And it does feel like it’s about time too, and when you hear about it you’re going ‘of course’ that’s the great thing about it.

“It isn’t just a token pairing and I think it is going to be really interesting to watch. It will change the dynamic slightly, what they can both do, they’re strengths, their weaknesses, what they can’t do.”

Strictly’s format has remained almost entirely unchanged in the 15 years it’s been on air. The show has been slow to introduce a same-sex couple to its competitive dancing lineup, having been dogged by complaints after including a professional same-sex dance routine last month.

Nearly 200 people found the time to complain about best friends Johannes Radebe and Graziano di Prima dancing to Emeli Sande’s ‘Shine’ on November 3, deeming it “offensive to feature two men dancing as a pair.”

Graziano Di Prima and Johannes Radebe performed Strictly’s first ever same-sex dance routine (Twitter/@@MOVEITSHOW)

Strictly judge Bruno Tonioli, who is gay himself, was devastated to hear viewers’ complaints. “I know I shouldn’t let this upset me however it’s just really sad to read this…” he tweeted to his fans.

“It’s hard to believe after such progress in society and many other topics going on that over 200 people felt so upset they complained when two men danced with each other… I just don’t know what to say… Very sad.”

In contrast, Dancing on Ice judges Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean expressed their excitement at seeing H and Matt on the ice together.

“It’s about time we had a same-sex couple on the show, we’re all excited and I am really fascinated to see how they treat it, they have a lot of responsibility,” Dean said.

“A lot of people will be watching them but what I said before, female and male partnerships have always happened in ballet. That’s been for a long time so it’ll be interesting to see how they treat it on the ice.”

Dancing on Ice is set to return to screens on Sunday 5 January at 6pm on ITV.

More: BBC, dancing on ice, Holly Willoughby, ITV, Phillip Schofield, Strictly Come Dancing

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