Perhaps it’s time producers ensured their lineup continues to improve their representation each year in age, ethnicity, and sexuality (Picture: Kieron McCarron/ITV/Shutterstock)
Dancing On Ice has glided back into our living rooms for another year, but there’s something more worrisome happening than a triple axel.
As someone who has contributed more than their fair share to the almost 750,000 views on YouTube of Perri Kiely and Vanessa Bauer’s Romeo and Juliet performance, and can do all the choreography to Hayley Tamaddon and Daniel Whiston’s Jai Ho (on dry land), I can comfortably call myself a fan.
However, there’s one issue I find hard to ignore as it slides (or tumbles in Todd Carty’s case) into my life each year recently – the winners.
Since its 2018 reboot, only men have nabbed the top spot.
Out of the 15 winners since it began, only four have been women, and the most recent was Beth Tweddle in 2013. We’ve had five prime ministers in that time!
There’s another glaring issue that’s pretty hard for viewers to ignore – as far as I can see, they are all white, cisgender and non-disabled.
I couldn’t help but feel a little sad when I saw X (formerly Twitter) account BrattyBarbi share a collage of the winners and wrote sarcastically: ‘Can’t stop thinking about how diverse the Dancing on Ice winners have been since the revival’, which has been liked nearly 2,000 times.
It’s important to note it’s an issue for many reality shows, with the odds often stacked against certain groups.
For Big Brother, the first person to be evicted – across all 20 seasons, except for one – has always been a woman. While the only two Black women in the I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! camp in 2022 – Charlene White and Scarlette Douglas – were first to leave. In 2021, Paralympian Kadeena Cox and radio DJ Snoochie Shy were second and third to be eliminated, while Nella Rose left second on the most recent series.
Statistically, Black and minority ethnic celebrities have to fight for survival on Strictly in more bottom two dance-off contests than their white competitors.
But when non-white women or disabled Strictly contestants are given the chance to shine, they thrive. Like Rose Ayling-Ellis’s dance to silence that challenged misconceptions about deafness, Angela Rippon performing a high-kick many of us can only dream of at the age of 79, and Hamza Yassin joyously dancing Afrobeat.
So why can’t Dancing on Ice get its skates on and start catching up?
It seems they are off to a good start with Adele Roberts this season – a woman who has proudly spoken about being the first to compete on the show with a stoma bag – sliding straight to the top of the leaderboard.
I’d love to see Adele continue to shine and take the win for the ladies. She’d be doing it for those robbed at the final in prior years, including Pussycat Doll Kimberly Wyatt (who came third in 2022) and Coronation Street actor Faye Brookes (who placed second in 2021).
Or the women who barely got a chance to tighten their laces before being flung out the Bovingdon Airfield studio, such as Ekin-Su Cülcüloğlu, Trisha Goddard, Myleene Klass, and Rachel Stevens.
I’d love to see Adele continue to shine and take the win for the ladies (Picture: Kieron McCarron/ITV/Shutterstock)
Of course, the show has had some diversity triumphs, with its first same-sex pairing – Ian ‘H’ Watkins from Steps with skater Matt Evers in 2020 – and then Drag Race’s The Vivienne who made the final last year.
ITV can’t be completely to blame for the lack of diverse winners – as the final decision is ultimately left to the voting public – but there are certainly things they can do to help.
Perhaps it’s time producers took inspiration from Strictly and ensured their lineup continues to improve their representation each year in age, ethnicity, and sexuality, but equally importantly ensure that they are given time to celebrate who they are within the format of the show.
In the grand year of 2024, I’m hoping to finally see someone different get their chance to shine.
Otherwise, while the skaters are doing headbangers, I’ll be banging my head against a wall.
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