Dancing On Ice: Nil By Mouth Set To Music

The Eastender nobody can remember seized victory with a passionate bolero, Holly Willoughby has now been pregnant for three years and Chloe Madeley is off to join her on This Morning...
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Celebrity talent contests are all much of a sameness. A motley assortment of low rent 'names' attempting to give their career an adrenaline shot to the heart by learning a new skill, a panel of judges who can barely contain their resentment for one another, and enough sparkly sequins to give a magpie an epileptic seizure.

The cubic zirconia in this televisual crown is undoubtedly ITV's Dancing On Ice, which manages to blend high camp with death-defying drama, like Dale Winton taking up base-jumping. And yet it's never achieved quite the same watercooler recognition as Strictly Come Dancing, despite being infinitely more compelling.

To be completely honest, I've never understood the appeal of Strictly, and not just because I take no enjoyment in watching Anne Widdecombe being dragged around a dancefloor like a giant yellow Swiffer. There's also that awful live covers band, that makes every performance sound as if they're warming-up for a regional insurance sales conference.

Dancing On Ice, on the other hand, has an inexplicable appeal that keeps me coming back for more, with its weird combination of chintz, tack and musicality, all wrapped up in a spectacular layer of mortal peril. Razor sharp blades, 'wrist-rippers' and 'head-bangers', this is Nil By Mouth set to music.

It's not as if we tune in for the big names either. This year's remaining three contestants have barely enough star-power to illuminate a low energy lightbulb. Early front-runner Sam Attwater used to be in Eastenders, although no-one seems to remember him, including much of the cast I suspect. Meanwhile, Laura Hamilton is a saucer-eyed children's TV presenter, and Chloe Madeley's biggest claim to fame is the fact that she once spent nine months in Judy Finnigan's uterus. But perhaps their borderline anonymity is the key to their fearlessness - they'd happily spiral their way around a downed helicopter to raise their profile.

Holly Willoughby seems to have the same gestation period as an African elephant. In her bright red gown, she looks like a London Routemaster with a fake pair of tits stuck to the bonnet.

So now it's the grand final, and our plucky contestants have given it their all to get their hands on a trophy that could have been half-inched from Superman's fortress of solitude. Over the last couple of hours, we've had scissor lifts, inverted waterfalls and even Riverdance on ice, which worked a lot better than it had any right to. We've also been treated to a few recaps of Denise Welch's gusset and seen exactly what lives under Jason Gardiner's hat. Some things just can't be unseen.

And let's not forget our gracious hosts, silver otter Philip Schofield and the epically pregnant Holly Willoughby, who seems to have the same gestation period as an African elephant. In her bright red gown, she looks like a London Routemaster with a fake pair of tits stuck to the bonnet.

The show opened with a booming voice telling us that "sixteen celebrities signed up, not knowing what lay ahead". I guess 'Dancing On Ice' isn't a telling enough title. And then we got to see Torville and Dean perform Bolero for the umpteenth time. They've been doing it for 27 years now, and by the end of tonight's show that's how long it felt I'd been listening to that fucking piece of music. Because the final part of the contest always sees the remaining two competitors having a crack at the duo's iconic performance.

In the end, there could be only one winner. And for me, that was commentator Tony Gubba, who noted with weary resignation that "It's hard to keep two ladies happy", when describing a tricky double lift in one of the opening performances. But since there's no prize for innuendo in a family show, the trophy ultimately went to Sam.

It's customary for participants on these programmes to talk about the journey they've been on; Sam's included a short-lived romance with his skating partner Brianne Delcourt. Although they managed to keep smiling through their performances, there was one tricky moment shortly after their split when Sam volunteered to be the first celebrity to tackle the headbanger. As Brianne's little blonde head spun perilously close to the ice, audiences wondered just how well Sam was handling the breakup.

Still, all's well that ends well, and they're now free to go their separate ways, at least until the regional tour comes calling. So she might want to hang onto that crash helmet, just in case.

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