Dancing on Ice is back and judge Jason Gardiner is as straight-talking as ever! Here, he reveals his thoughts on this year's skaters and what he DOESN'T want to see on the ice...
Dancing on Ice judge Jason Gardiner on why he’s still as brutally honest as ever…
Infamous for his barbed comments and savage put-downs, Jason Gardiner certainly ruffled feathers when he judges past series of Dancing on Ice. So when it was announced that he would be on the Ice Panel for the show’s reboot, the celebs were no doubt left quaking in their skates.
But let’s face it, the ice-skating show just wouldn’t be the same without the straight-talking Australian choreographer – dubbed ‘Mr Nasty’ – and we’re thrilled he’s back and as brutal as ever! Here, Jason, 46, tells us what he’s making of the series so far…
How are you feeling being back as a judge on the show?
“I feel honoured that the producers wanted me to come back as a judge, it is flattering. I’ve had such an overwhelming response from members of the public on Twitter; people saying things like: ‘The show wouldn’t be the same without you’ and that really does resonate. I didn’t say yes straight away, I did have to think about it because I have a production company that takes up all my time. So it required a lot of juggling to see if we could make it work and, thankfully, we could.”
You’ve been criticised in the past for being too harsh on the celebrity skaters – and it seems you’re still as straight-talking as ever…
“It’s just how I am. I’m not there to sugar coat anything, I’m there to be a judge. I never go in with any pre-determined expectations of myself. I’ve always approached this show instinctively, so I react to what I see happening in that moment. People may take exception to the way I say things but there is a method to my meanness because, ultimately, I know it provokes the celebrities to either do better or, if they can’t handle the heat, then unfortunately it’s bye-bye!”
Telling it straight! Jason Gardiner alongside his fellow Ice Panellists, telling it like it is…
How pleased are you that Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean are on the panel this year?
“I love Jayne and Chris. I did this show initially because of Jayne and Chris – they are ice skating royalty. They are huge idols of mine and they are phenomenal. They are so dedicated and hardworking and we really ‘get’ one another. They have the same level of perfection and discipline as me and it’s all those things I find delicious about life.”
Also new to the panel is Diversity star Ashley Banjo. Do you think you might adopt anything from his judging style?
“Do you know what? I’m always open to learning something from people that I respect – and I absolutely respect Ashley and what he’s done with Diversity. What’s great is, for the first time, this panel feels really solid. Everybody on it is an expert in their own right and has incredible experience that they’re going to bring to the panel and to the show.”
Jason reckons new boy Ashley has a lot to offer… unlike former members of the Ice Panel. Who’s he talking about we wonder?
What do you think the panel was missing in previous series?
“I think it was missing people that really had an understanding of dance or any actual experience in dance.”
Oh, like who?
“I’m just leaving it there. I don’t need to name names…”
Now that you’ve seen all the celebrity skaters in action, is there anyone that really stands out for you?
“I don’t want to cast any expectations on anyone or predict that a person is going to be better for one reason or another because, as judges, we have to be impartial. What I will say is, I think there’s only really a couple of them that are very confident on the ice right now. They’ve got a long way to go yet so, hopefully, we’ll see an improvement in the ones that are still very tentative. Or maybe that’s a ploy, who knows?”
You’ve known Corrie’s Antony Cotton for a long time – are you going to be harsher in your critique of him than the other celebrities?
“I’m absolutely going be harder on Antony because of the fact I’ve known him for 20 years. Nobody gets special dispensation from me. When he was asked to do the show, he said to me: ‘I don’t expect any special treatment’ and I replied: ‘You’re not going to get any!’ I am going to be tougher on him and he’s ready for it. I mean, come on, it’s Antony Cotton, he’ll give as good as he gets!”
Keep practising Antony… Otherwise, you’ll be in for some tough criticism from your mate Jason!
What are your hopes for this series of Dancing on Ice?
“At the end of the day, it’s a competition, so all I really want to see are people that are improving, that work really hard, and that take criticism on board and apply it, so that they can get better. That’s what my role as a judge is all about: helping the skaters get better.”
THREE THINGS I DON’T WANT TO SEE ON DANCING ON ICE!
DON’T CALL ME ‘MR NASTY’!
“I find it lazy and really boring! I will be really disappointed if no one can come up with a different catchphrase for me. But I bet you any money that’s not going to happen! What would my catchphrase be? It’s not up to me. I’m just a judge.”
“With previous series of Dancing on Ice, the judges weren’t allowed to critique the couples on choreography because it was given to them. This year, however, the individual pro skaters are choreographing the routines themselves, so I can judge them on it. The pro and the celeb are a partnership, though, so the two of them will need to contribute to the routine. So it’s not just about the pro; it’s also about the celebrity injecting their personality and everything else into the choreography.”
“For me personally, those kinds of moments don’t do anything. I understand why the public love it but I like talent. I like to see things that are good and I like it when people are great. Mediocre is not what turns me on. I like surprises and I want to feel the magic. Then I’m hooked. I realise, though, that it’s a very tall order!”
Dancing on Ice continues Sundays at 6pm.