Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean are in a new ITV series called Ice Rink on The Estate (premieres Thursday, April 9) and they believe they wouldn’t have enjoyed successful ice-skating careers and Olympic gold glory if it wasn’t for their beloved home city of Nottingham… 

They tell TV Times about returning to their hometown to help teenagers in need of inspiration…

What made you agree to do this series?
Chris: “It was something completely different. We were totally out of our comfort zone in the same way the kids were going to be. But we felt it was something really positive for Nottingham and a chance to do something to help the area close to where it all began for us.”

So why Nottingham?
Jayne: “If we hadn’t had the opportunities in Nottingham then our careers wouldn’t have taken off.”
 
Tell us a bit more about it?
Jayne: “We wanted to choose a specific estate. St Ann’s is a place where we felt that the teenagers might enjoy putting on a show for their community and taking responsibility for it. We wanted to give them an opportunity to do something that they’d never normally do and then say to them: ‘Don’t give up on something before you’ve tried’.”

Why was it so important for you to do this project?
Chris: “It was something completely different. We were totally out of our comfort zone in the same way the kids were going to be. But we felt it was something really positive for Nottingham and a chance to do something to help the area close to where it all began for us.”
Jayne: “If we hadn’t had the opportunities in Nottingham then our careers wouldn’t have taken off. We were lucky that it had an ice rink.”

Tell us more about some of the help you received when you were starting out…   
Chris: “When we were kids, the local community within the rink would help us by organising fundraising events. One of the things that we needed to train is what I’ll call a mobile video camera – but it took two people to carry it around!”
Jayne: “When I was working at Norwich Union, as it was called then, my colleagues organised a cricket match so we could afford to fly to an international event. So we had a lot of support in small ways before the big grant from Nottingham City Council.”

Did you enjoy being back in Nottingham?
Jayne: “It was nice to relive some of the memories. We’ve been back over the years with our tours. But to spend a lot of time there as we did bought lots of emotions. We were thinking about how we were when we were that age and seeing what they have to grow up in nowadays, with all the social media as well as the pressures of everyday life.”

How different is life today in Nottingham for teenagers compared to your teen years?
Chris: “I think they have to grow up much quicker than we did. These days they’re so much more streetwise and savvy, and know much more about the world than we ever did at the age because of the easy access to media online. Having said that, they still need love and guidance in the same way that we needed it at that age.”
Jayne: “It was a lot safer for me to get on a bus and travel to the ice rink as a young teen back then. It’s not so nice to wander around on your own now in any city – there’s a lot of aggression out there and I think that’s how teens survive these days. They don’t want to be deemed weak in any way so they act tough in order to survive.”  
 
How did you find working with the teenagers who took part in the show? 
Together: [laughing] “Challenging!”
Christopher: “You think you know teenagers, I’ve got two teenage boys, but when they come together in a collection like that, it’s very hard to stay on top and be organised. But we didn’t want it to turn out like: ‘You got to do this. You’ve got to do that.’ Ultimately it was all about them and their show. We just had to do some prodding. And as a group they really turned it around  – by the end they were the ones who wanted it to happen.”

How did it compare to teaching celebrities on ITV’s Dancing on Ice?   
Jayne: “It was harder definitely because of the sheer volume of them. Also, even though some of the celebs weren’t as talented as we would have liked them to be, at least they want to be there and indeed they were getting paid for it which gives them more incentive to listen!”
Christopher: “All the kids gave their own time and there was a core group that stuck at it. But sometimes key people wouldn’t turn up – you’ll see a lot of frustration coming out. The greatest moment was at the end of the performance, they were thrilled that they had accomplished it.”
Jayne: “They didn’t want it to end either. And what we’ve managed to do with some of the sponsorship is pay for them to have a pass to Nottingham ice rink for another year so they can carry on skating, which is brilliant.”

Would you like to try the idea out elsewhere?
Jayne: “Absolutely. It was a big challenge for us, but we learnt a lot from the process. It’d be nice to go to a different area with different people and give them the same sense of achievement as the children got from this.”