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Dancing On Ice: First same-sex couple don't want to 'be part of a circus'

By Nesta McGregor
Newsbeat reporter

image copyrightGetty Images

Dancing On Ice's first same-sex couple have told Newsbeat they "don't want to stand-out" or be "part of a circus".

Steps singer Ian "H" Watkins has teamed up with professional skater Matt Evers in the latest series of the ITV show.

"For me, growing up I never had any visibility like this, nobody I could look up to," says H who publicly came out in 2007.

It's the first time a same-sex couple have been paired together on a competitive reality TV show in the UK.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionThe celebrity skaters taking part in Dancing On Ice 2020

The list of celebrities taking part in Dancing On Ice includes Love Island's Maura Higgins, former footballer Kevin Kilbane and Paralympic gold medallist Libby Clegg.

They will all be judged on their moves by a panel including Olympic gold medallists Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean and new judge John Barrowman.

The Welsh singer says ITV producers were "fully supportive" about his initial request to be paired with another man.

"I've auditioned for the show twice before and for one reason or another I couldn't do it but the stars aligned this time."

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionIan "H" Watkins [centre] rose to fame as part of the pop group Steps

American pro-skater Matt Evers - the only regular still on the show since it launched in 2006 - says he's surprised it's taken so long for the show to feature a same-sex couple.

"This is for somebody like me, when I was nine. I was lost, lonely and felt like I had nowhere to turn.

"Let's bring it out in the open. Growing up watching TV I didn't have many - if any - role models. It's nice to finally see this in the mainstream.

"I'm really proud and happy that [ITV] has chosen to do this and has chosen me of all people."

'Difficulties of dancing with another man'

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While both Matt and H are happy to be part of an historic TV moment - it does come with its own unique challenges.

"Coming into it, I wasn't quite sure what the difficulties were going to be - the only thing we have found is in a certain lift," says Matt.

"He rolls up over my shoulder and then goes into like a crucifix position and, let's just say, where I am supposed to put my hands - his anatomy gets in the way.

"Anatomy that a female may not have. That's the only thing that's been different."

image captionOti Mabuse and Kelvin Fletcher were crowned winners of Strictly 2019

Although Dancing On Ice is the first to feature a same-sex pairing, there has been speculation that Strictly Come Dancing will do the same next year.

In August, the BBC said it was "completely open" to it "should the opportunity arise". And in November, the show featured it's first same-sex dance routine.

Strictly star Johannes Radebe said he felt liberated for the first time in his life after performing with fellow professional Graziano di Prima.

While some viewers praised the move and said the routine moved them to tears, the BBC received around 200 complaints.

H says he knew that Dancing on Ice making the move "would be a big deal, it has to be a big deal - for it not to be a big deal.

"Once this is out of the way hopefully they'll do it again next year and nobody will blink an eye."

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Related Topics

  • Strictly Come Dancing
  • Dancing on Ice
  • LGBT
  • Television
  • ITV

More on this story

  • Dancing on Ice: Steps singer Ian 'H' Watkins to be in same-sex couple