Dancing On Ice cuts series short by a week after five stars withdraw

image copyrightITV/PA Media
image captionJason Donovan was the latest contestant to be forced out on Monday

ITV has brought the final of this year's series of Dancing On Ice forward by a week after a string of celebrities pulled out through illness and injury.

The final will now take place on 14 March, instead of 21 March as planned.

The decision comes after producers scrapped last week's live programme because of the disruption.

On Monday Jason Donovan became the latest star to pull out, following Denise van Outen, Billie Shepherd, Rufus Hound and Joe-Warren Plant.

The Australian singer and actor has been suffering from back pain, while actress van Outen and reality TV star Shepherd both sustained injuries during training.

Meanwhile, comedian Hound and Emmerdale actor Plant tested positive for Covid-19.

On top of the celebrity withdrawals, professional skater Hamish Gaman, who partnered soap actress Faye Brookes, dropped out last week after injuring a finger while putting on a sock. He was replaced by Matt Evers.

'Morale is still high'

Brookes told ITV's This Morning on Friday that training with a new partner was a "whole new world", adding: "We've had 11 hours together to get ready for Sunday."

Evers said: "We are still standing, the morale here is still high.

"We know we're up against a lot this year and it's just a matter of making the best out of a weird situation that 2020 and 2021 have brought, so it's a matter of continuing to move forward, keeping that smile on our faces and hopefully entertaining people on Sunday night."

The contest is due to resume this weekend with five remaining celebrities - Brookes, Rebekah Vardy, Lady Leshurr, Colin Jackson and Sonny Jay.

'Incredibly challenging times'

An ITV spokesperson said: "Our production team and cast have delivered a fantastic show during incredibly challenging times. Continuing to make the best TV for our viewers is our top priority and we look forward to the rest of the series."

Dancing On Ice is not alone in having to deal with disruption to its schedule in recent months.

image copyrightPA Media
image captionFilming of the Britain's Got Talent Christmas special was delayed last year

Britain's Got Talent was recently postponed until next year due to concerns around safety during the pandemic. Producers said it would be difficult for acts like dance groups, choirs and orchestras to rehearse and audition safely.

It followed a delay in the filming of its Christmas special after at least three crew members tested positive for coronavirus.

ITV's I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! relocated from the Australian jungle to a derelict castle in north Wales because of the pandemic.

image captionNicola Adams and Katya Jones pulled out of Strictly after Jones tested positive for Covid-19

On the BBC, Strictly Come Dancing was also hit when former boxer Nicola Adams and her professional partner Katya Jones left the contest after Jones tested positive.

Bruno Tonioli did not sit alongside his fellow judges as he could not fly back and forth between the UK and the US, where he was appearing on Dancing with the Stars. Motsi Mabuse, meanwhile, had to self-isolate for two weeks after an "urgent" trip abroad.

In January, filming on ITV soap Emmerdale was suspended for a week after a number of positive tests among those working on the show.

And fellow soap Coronation Street paused production for two weeks to allow its writers to change its then-future storylines and scripts to ensure it was feasible to film them within current restrictions.

Both shows have however been able to continue screening six episodes a week.

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