Dancing On Ice judges to be separated by perspex screens and audiences scrapped to keep show Covid-safe

STRICTLY Come Dancing chiefs somehow managed to keep the show on air during these strange times, giving the nation a much-needed boost.

And their rivals over on Dancing On Ice do not want to miss out on the primetime love.

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I’m told ITV bosses are pulling out all the stops to get the skating show on air – despite the latest lockdown, Covid cases surging and wide-ranging uncertainty about productions getting the green light.

The celebrities – who have had mixed success in training so far – are back on the ice and producers have overhauled the entire studio to make it safe.

I’m told the judges – Ashley Banjo, Christopher Dean, Jayne Torvill and John Barrowman – will be separated by perspex dividers.

And, somewhat unsurprisingly, they’ve done away altogether with the public audience – meaning the studio, at Bovingdon Airfield in Hertfordshire, is going to feel quite empty.

This year’s celebrity line-up – which includes the likes of Jason Donovan, Rebekah Vardy and Rufus Hound – will also have to keep their distance from one another.

They’ll be watching each other perform from the all-new socially distanced cabaret-style tables.

And the crew will be observing all the usual hands, face, space guidelines.

A source said: “Everyone needs a bit of glitz and glamour in their lives right now and TV shows are doing their best to stay on air and be safe.”

The source added: “ITV showed they could do it with I’m A Celebrity and now they’re doing it again with Dancing On Ice.

“They’ve made big changes to the studio, including the judging panel and audience, and hope this, as well as their daily vigilance, will be enough to keep it on air.”

The show, hosted by Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, will return a week on Sunday.

It only feels like two minutes ago that the 2020 series aired . . . 

Well done, Hollyoaks

HOLLYOAKS actress Denise Welch has applauded the Channel 4 soap for its handling of the age gap between her character, Trish Minniver, and her new love interest, Brad King.

Speaking on Loose Women yesterday, Denise said: “They’re not making a big deal of it.”

Anthony heads Back

SUAVE Anthony Head looks unrecognisable in the second series of sitcom Back.

Anthony – known to millions as the smoothie in the Gold Blend ads, and the slick PM in Little Britain – plays “Charismatic Mike”, the potential dad of David Mitchell’s character Stephen.

The Channel 4 show, which returns on January 21 for a second series, also stars David’s Peep Show comedy partner Robert Webb.

Filming paused while he underwent emergency heart surgery.

For the show, visual effects had to be used on the actor to disguise how ill he looked.

Robert – Stephen’s rival Andrew on the show – said: “I saw the rough edit. You go from me bloated and pastily white and knowing that I’m about to have a heart attack.”

Sounds like he was almost as unrecognisable as Anthony.

The real story

THE Pembrokeshire Murders drama will conclude next week with a documentary looking at the true story behind the show.

Catching The Game Show Killer will air on Thursday and look at how police snared the murderer, John Cooper, by identifying him when he appeared on ITV gameshow, Bullseye.

The investigation has been adapted into a three-part thriller starring Luke Evans which airs on ITV on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Celebs tell Curtis he's next Bond

CURTIS Pritchard has seen his star soar over the past couple of years, but it sounds like he might be getting a tad over-ambitious.

The dancer and brother of Strictly pro AJ Pritchard wants to play James Bond after he was showered with praise by fellow stars on Celebs Go Dating, which airs soon on E4.

He said: “I’m looking to be the next James Bond.

"Everyone in the Celebs Go Dating mansion said to me, ‘You should be James Bond, Curtis’.

“Hopefully that’ll happen one day – ‘We won’t cast Tom Hardy then, we’ll get you in there instead’.

"I do love Tom but sorry, move over mate.”

Until then, he’ll have to settle for having his own reality TV show later this year alongside his brother.

But he said: “We are planning world domination. I’ve always been told to dream big and think big.”

Good luck, Curtis.

Back to The Bay

POPULAR ITV crime drama The Bay is returning for a second season on January 20.

The six-part series, set in the seaside town of Morecambe, Lancashire, sees Morven Christie reprise her lead role as police family liasion officer Lisa Armstrong.

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