Dancing on Ice professional Christopher Dean has confirmed a “change” in his relationship with Karen Barber.

The 52-year-old – who appears on the show with his professional partner Jayne Torvill (pictured) – and Karen issued a joint statement to the media to confirm the news after photos of them kissing appeared in the papers.

Karen, 49, was formerly a judge on the show and now acts as a mentor to the celebrities taking part.

“We have been great friends for more than 30 years,” the statement read.

“Following recent media speculation, we feel the necessity to confirm that this year has seen a change in our relationship, but we are taking things very slowly, as it is early days.

“We’d very much like to thank our dear friends, who have been so incredibly supportive to us.

“We both have families with children, so we ask the media to please respect their privacy.”

Christopher Dean split from his second wife Jill Trenary in 2010.

The new series continues on Sunday, with the remaining eight celebrities – including Chloe Madeley, Denise Welch, Craig McLachlan and Sam Attwater – taking to the ice to compete for the remaining six places in the final 12.