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They are the biggest names in the opening show of Dancing On Ice this weekend but Denise Van Outen and Rebekah Vardy have something else in common… they are
terrified of how they will perform.
The pair, now firm friends, are up against singer Jason Donovan, actor Joe-Warren Plant, musician Lady Leshurr and comedian Rufus Hound, half the usual full line-up.
TV presenter and stage star Denise, 47, admits: “I am still really struggling, I still can’t skate backwards.
“I am petrified of doing anything on my own, like a turn on the ice, things in normal dance I’d do easily. We’ve had to make some changes to the routine.”
Meanwhile mum-of-five Rebekah, 38, wife of England football star Jamie, confesses: “I am worried I am going to get on the ice, my legs will turn to jelly and the music will come on and I go completely blank.
“I have never danced and am not trained in anything like that and I struggle to remember routines.
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“That is the biggest challenge, the whole posture and performance side without looking like a deer in the headlights.”
Denise has become totally committed to the show, even moving pro partner Matt Evers into her Essex home which she shares with Eddie Boxshall.
It means they can practise and talk about routines day and night.
She explains: “I have been petrified about getting an injury and falling on the ice but I have been falling over most sessions. I have learned to go with the fall and you have to accept it is part and parcel of what you do.
“I am very nervous. To give you an idea I woke up at 3am this morning going through my routine in my head.
Denise Van Outen is nervous about her first performance
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“I was doing the moves with my feet in the bed trying not to wake Eddie up. I think we are all nervous but quite excited because it is becoming very real now. The country needs an uplift and this is a show filled with sunshine.
“Matt is living with us so we have taken our friendship to a different level.”
She goes on: “We have now become a thruple.
“I am living with two guys and we are getting some strange looks from the neighbours! They can’t work out what is going on and I always leave with a smile on my face. It is lovely.
Denise Van Outen said she still can't skate backwards
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I sort of knew Matt before and Matt wasn’t able to go back to the States to see his friends and family because of the lockdown and he wanted to hang around and do the show.
“He was living on his own and he felt really lonely and really struggled in the first lockdown so I said, ‘Why don’t you come live with us, we have got enough room’. And it has been really lovely.
“We have formed a lovely friendship and my daughter adores him and they do TikToks together.”
Despite her nerves, Denise also has the full support of Eddie, who she plans to marry after lockdown, and most importantly daughter Betsy, 10.
“She is really looking forward to watching the show because there is not really anything for children to do at the moment,” Denise says. “They are not in school and it is going to be a highlight of the weekend. For kids this will be a great tonic for them to get absorbed into.
“Betsy said to me, ‘Do you think you will be good Mummy?’ and I said, ‘I don’t know because I am very inconsistent’.
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“She said, ‘Even if you fall over or something goes wrong I will still think you are brilliant’. I think she just can’t believe I am doing it.”
Mum-of-five Rebekah, who is teamed with Andy Buchanan, is quietly confident despite her nerves: “Hopefully I will go out there and show what I have been learning for the last few months.
“My children are so excited and chomp-ing at the bit.” She adds: “In a show like this I think any goals you set are not achievable anyway.
“If I push myself too far I am going to go flying and go on my backside.
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“Every day I take it as it comes and try not to beat myself up about it.”
Due to Covid restrictions, contestants are yet to try on their outfits or get a run-through of the show.
However Denise is confident it will look as good as normal in the studio and be great fun on Sunday, even without a studio audience alongside hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby.
“I have got friends on the show so I was looking forward to doing some sessions together but unfortunately we couldn’t do that,” Denise says.
“But we have still had the banter and the fun. Rebecca and I message quite a lot and have a chat.
Dancing On Ice bosses are reportedly worried ahead of Sunday's launch show
“I am looking forward to the studio days though.
“We have got to socially distance but we will have a laugh and a lot of fun. It is just different.
“We will make the most of it, I still plan to have a little drink in my dressing room afterwards. I am gonna bring a bottle of champers and some plastic cups and
we will make sure we wipe everything down and safely have a toast. It is important we enjoy the experience.”
Rebecca adds: “If we can make people laugh or smile just for a couple of hours on a Sunday then it will be good.”
- Dancing On Ice starts on Sunday night at 6pm on ITV.
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