The first eight couples in Dancing on Ice have competed in the first of two knockout heats to determine which 12 will go through to the main show.

In a new format for the 2011 season, 16 celebrities are taking part in the series along with professional skating partners, with eight skating in this week’s show and the remaining eight in next week.

But two from each of the preliminary heats will be eliminated following the public votes – leaving just 12 to compete for the series title.

On the first show presenters Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby also revealed that the points awarded by the judges – Robin Cousins, Jason Gardiner and Emma Bunton – would not count towards the final vote in the first fortnight.

However the first show brought with it a few early favourites, including children’s TV presenter Laura Hamilton who topped the judges’ scoreboard with 16 points out of 30.

The panel praised the 28-year-old for her energetic performance to the song My Life Would Suck Without You – but also offered a note of caution.

“Sometimes you need to pull that adrenaline junkie aside,” Robin Cousins told her, “but it’s great to see such quality.”

“You’re over-enthusiastic,” Jason Gardiner added, “watch your face because you end up looking a bit goofy. “But I’m thrilled because I can see somebody who’s got potential.”

90s rap star Vanilla Ice also fared well with his performance to the rock track Word Up “It was exciting, fun and I can’t wait to see what more you have to give,” Emma Bunton told him.

And it was a good night for Kerry Katona, who scored 14 points to finish in third place for her routine to Adele‘s Make You Feel My Love.

“You will be around for a few more weeks if people vote for you,” Robin assured , while Jason complimented her on her improvement from the dress rehearsal, “I thought you nailed it beautifully,” he said.

Meanwhile there were words of encouragement for Johnson Beharry VC, who is the first person not from the worlds of showbiz or sport to take part in the show.

The Victoria Cross winner scored just 11 points but the judges indicated they would like to see him in the main competition. “I just want to see a bit more of that cheeky smile,” Emma Bunton told him.

And Angela Rippon also got off to a rocky start when Jason Gardiner told her that her skating “lacked any emotional connection”.

TV presenter Jeff Brazier was another celebrity skater who showed promise, despite finishing lower down the scoreboard. “From a skating point of view, what potential you have,” Robin said. “I hope people will pick up the phone because you will get better.”

However it wasn’t such good news for TV presenter Nadia Sawalha and former Coronation Street star Steven Arnold, with the former criticised for her performance, and the latter kicking off the show with a routine which scored him just seven points out of a possible 30.

“I wouldn’t say I’m entirely happy,” Jason said of Nadia’s routine. “Your legs looked like they were anaesthetised, they looked numb.”

And Robin Cousins wasted no time in telling Steven that he could improve. “You will come back because you have a huge fanbase, and they need to vote for you,” he said, “because you can skate better than that.”

And Emma agreed. “It was a shame that you had a few hiccups,” she said of his performance, “because you do have potential.”

This year’s show sees the judges awarding marks out of 10 to the contestants instead of the more traditional skating score of six. However their votes will not count towards the result until the final line-up has been confirmed.