Will Tudor and Poppy Lee Friar talk playing ice-dancing legends Torvill and Dean...
In 1984, ice-dancing duo Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean became the nation’s sweethearts after winning gold for their spellbinding Bolero routine at the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. Their journey from humble beginnings in Nottingham to achieving Olympic glory is now being explored in one-off ITV drama, Torvill & Dean.
Taking to the ice as Jayne Torvill is Ackley Bridge star Poppy Lee Friar alongside Games of Thrones actor Will Tudor as Christopher Dean. As the sporting pair’s family lives, professional ambitions and intense relationship are examined, the drama also stars acting royalty Anita Dobson as Jayne’s first coach, Miss Perry, while Jaime Winstone (Babs) plays Janet Sawbridge, the ice-dancing instructor who pairs Chris and Jayne together for the first time.
TV Times got all wrapped up in our winter clothes (complete with Eighties’ leg warmers!) and headed to the Dundonald Ice Bowl in Belfast to chat to Poppy and Will before they stepped onto the ice, to find out what it’s like playing the icons of ice-dancing in Torvill & Dean
What will viewers learn about Torvill and Dean in this drama?
Will: “It’s a dramatic take on their lives, how their partnership formed and the challenges along the way. Chris is incredibly passionate about what he does and we discover how events in his home life were the driving force behind his development.”
Poppy: “While Chris is a perfectionist, Jayne’s quite shy and reserved but knows she can be anyone she wants to be on the ice. Together, Torvill and Dean transformed themselves and pushed to make their dream a reality. That takes an enormous amount of courage, energy, commitment and passion, and will inspire anyone watching.”
What was it like meeting Torvill and Dean themselves?
Will: “They’ve been integral to the development of this production and we did a FaceTime chat with them at the start of filming. We’re having a conversation with these two legends and after about 10 minutes you think: ‘My goodness, this is actually happening!’ But they were very kind, open and warm towards us.”
How have you both found learning to ice-skate?
Will: “It’s very rare that you get to develop a completely new skill when you do an acting job and it just so happens that we’ve both really taken to ice-skating. Nick Buckland and Penny Coomes [who competed for Team GB in the 2018 Winter Olympics], our amazing instructors and body doubles on this, have been brilliant. You’d think with them being at the top of their game they’d get frustrated with us but they haven’t.”
Poppy: “I’m addicted to ice skating now! Jayne said when she first started skating she fell in love with the white boots and, when I put on my boots for the first time, I knew what she meant. I was like: ‘These boots are gorgeous, I love them!’”
Why do you think Torvill and Dean have such a legacy?
Will: “What I find fascinating is that their Olympic-winning Bolero routine is like this folklore that’s been passed down. We all know their names and their presence in popular culture.”
Poppy: “Torvill and Dean are still going strong today and there’s no way that a partnership and friendship could last this long without love and an understanding; they’re just two people really understanding each other and having one goal. This drama is reminding people of that glory.”
Torvill & Dean give their verdict!
Ice-dancing legends Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean spent hours being interviewed by writer William Ivory for the drama.
“Billy was so enthusiastic,” says Jayne. “He was brought up in Nottingham and sort of lived that process with us, through the newspapers and on TV, so he was there every step of the way as it were. But it is a drama so his own thoughts are in there as well.”
So what do they think of Poppy and Will’s portrayal of them?
“I think Will looks quite like Chris,” says Jayne. “I don’t think Poppy looks like me but she definitely portrays the essence of how I was, quite a shy person but still driven.” The big question is, can we expect to see a cameo? “Well,” teases Chris. “It’s a great ending to the drama… and I’ll just leave it at that!”
Torvill & Dean can be seen on Christmas Day at 9.15pm on ITV.