Jason Gardiner has voiced his concerns over Dancing on Ice introducing same sex pairings for the first time in its upcoming series.
During a guest appearance on Channel 5’s Jeremy Vine on Thursday 17 October, the former head judge said that he hopes Steps star Ian ‘H’ Watkins being partnered with professional skater Matt Evers isn’t treated like a gimmick, but rather a genuine attempt to break down stereotypes on reality television.
“All I hope is that it isn’t tokenism,” Gardiner, who will be replaced by Arrow actor John Barrowman when the show returns in 2020, said. “That they don’t make it camp and flamboyant and it’s a proper partnership because it has to also have that romance.”
He continued: “I hope it is handled correctly and with dignity. I hope it’s not made light of.”
The 47-year-old went on to seemingly criticise the broadcaster, smirking: “Well, it is ITV. Sorry ITV, but you know, it’s true.
‘Will it become stereotypical? On mainstream media we’re fine to do camp with gay men, but we don’t want gay men to be romantic,” he said more seriously. “We don’t really want to see that. This is an opportunity for them to break the ice.”
Barrowman has previously urged Dancing on Ice fans to get behind the move. Speaking about it on This Morning, he said: “You know what, it’s a same-sex partnership. It’s the first. Let’s do it this way, be supportive as a community, the LGBTQ community and everybody else.
“Let’s be supportive of this and let’s see how they do. Let’s see if they’re gonna be good.”
When the show’s twelfth series premieres in January 2020, Watkins will be seen competing against the likes of television personality Michael Barrymore, newsreader Lucrezia Millarini, Diversity dancer Perri Kiely, former soap star Joe Swash, ex-footballer Kevin Kilbane, Coronation Street actor Lisa George and Love Island favourite Maura Higgins.