The 2011 Dancing on Ice competition has begun in earnest following the two preliminary heats which reduced the 16 hopefuls down to 12.

Sunday’s show saw the remaining celebrity skaters compete against each other for the first time this series – and just a few weeks in, the front-runners are already emerging.

Once again it was a great night for former EastEnders star Sam Attwater, who topped the leader board once again with an impressive 25 out of 30 – the highest score so far this series.

“You’re a joy to watch,” Emma Bunton told him and skating partner Brianne Delcourt. “I love the connection between the two of you.

“It is incredible to see the power and the control that you have,” Robin Cousins added, describing their routine as “a semi-final performance”.

It was also another good week for Chloe Madeley, who managed to master a tricky lift which involved placing the blades of her skates on the legs of skating partner Michael Zenezini.

The same move was performed by Sinitta on the 2010 series and went wrong, resulting in torn trousers for her partner Andrei Lipanov – but Chloe had no similar problems, performing the move flawlessly.

“That was absolutely beautiful,” Emma said of her routine, and Jason Gardiner agreed. “I can see you are going to be a great contender in this competition.”

Also faring well were Laura Hamilton – who landed in the first skate-off of the series two weeks ago despite finishing top of the judges’ scoreboard – and