Heather Mills very nearly didn’t make it into this year’s Dancing On Ice. Following a training injury she nearly quit the ITV1 show. Here she explains how she wouldn’t admit defeat…

Tell us about your difficulties in training?
“I had eight lessons and then I was flat on my back for ten days after a bad fall and I nearly had to drop out. My doctor thought it was ridiculous that I was putting myself through this and said ‘I think you should pull out.’ But I’m not a quitter and I’m so used to injury in my life so I know how to overcome it.”

How have the injuries affected you?
“Now I’m scared to fall again because of all my injuries. I have no fear in one way but when I had that first fall and I was flat on my back I thought: ‘Oh God, I’ve got to be careful about this because I can’t afford to end up in a wheelchair and not walk.’ So I suppose I’m holding back a bit now in that I’m being sensible and not overdoing things but at the same time I hope I’m doing enough to impress the judges and get the public support.”

Doing a skating competition is a brave step for an amputee. Did you have to weigh up lots of things before you agreed to appear?
“Before I began training I went online and looked to see if there were any figure skaters out there who were amputees. There weren’t any, but eventually I found an ice hockey amputee and he said that it took him four years to learn to skate and that it would be impossible to figure skate in such a short space of time. So I thought, you know what, that sounds like a challenge, why not give it a go?”

How are you hampered?
“Obviously I can’t bend my leg in the way that ice skaters need to do and there are some things I will not be able to do as well as the others, such as crossovers. But my core is solid and so I find the lifts easier, whereas other people may find those difficult. I’m sure everyone is going to have their issues whether they’ve got one leg or two. But I’m really excited to be doing this and if it inspires any other amputees, men, women or children to get skating then all the pain and training will be worthwhile. I just hope me being on the show raises a lot of awareness and challenge peoples’ preconceptions of disability. Because, let’s face it, everyone is just a banana skin away from disability when you think about it, whether they know it or not.”

You haven’t let your disability hold you back have you?
“The other reason I’m doing the show is for myself. I’ve nearly died four times which has really made me focus on the right here right now and I want to try everything. So when my sister asked me what I wanted for my birthday and for Christmas I said I’d like to jump out of a plane by myself and I’d like to race a proper racing car. So she booked both. I haven’t done the racing car yet, but I did the parachute jump for charity, which was amazing.”

How is it working with your skating partner Matt Evers?
“The Dancing On Ice producers asked me what kind of personality I was and I said I’m someone who will push myself to the limit so I don’t need a really arrogant bossy skating partner who will push me to the limit because it will be a bit of a waste for me as I will do that myself anyway. I need someone who will work with me to work out how to achieve different ways of doing things that can be virtually impossible sometimes to do with one leg. So Matt could not have been a better match for me, we couldn’t be better suited. He’s already been round for dinner and we are having a real laugh. The main thing Matt and I are most concerned about is that because of all the hard work and long hours there’s a lot of pressure that you have to put on the artificial leg to do things and sometimes I just can’t get my leg on. So we may have to get creative, because if for some reason I can’t get my skate leg on on the day of the show, we’re going to need a routine prepared where I do the whole thing on one leg, which would be interesting.”

And you must have loved working with Torvill and Dean?
“Oh my God! I’m in awe of the pair of them. When I watched them perform Bolero together on Dancing On Ice last series it was very emotional, because it’s like that music sets something off in your mind and takes you back in time. That music really does take me back to the 1980s, watching Jayne and Chris at the Olympics was a really inspirational moment.”

You’re known for your forthright opinions – so how do you feel about facing a potentially critical judging panel?
“Oh I will laugh my head off. I don’t understand how people can take what they say personally. It won’t bother me at all. I’ve had more criticism than anyone in the entire history of the planet, so I can promise you fair criticism about my skating will just wash over me.”

Dancing on Ice begins with a launch show on Friday January 8 at 9pm