Ekin-Su Culculoglu to compete in dance-off after failing to impress viewers

Ekin-Su Culculoglu is in danger of going home after a public vote landed her in the dance-off as six celebrities competed on the first episode of Dancing On Ice 2023.

The judges were thrilled by the Love Island winner, 28, and her professional partner Brendyn Hatfield’s steamy routine to Britney Spears’ Toxic – but they were disappointed by her skating ability.

Culculoglu scored 21.5 points from the judges, which was not the lowest score on Sunday night, as the first group of skaters took to the ice in ITV’s split premiere.

However, combined with the public voting for their favourites at home, she ended up at the bottom and will now face one of five celebrities who will compete next week.

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Former Strictly Come Dancing judge Oti Mabuse said she “loved” Culculoglu’s performance as it was “hot, hot, hot – from the outfit to the make-up”.

Olympian skater Jayne Torvill agreed it was “sexy” but said: “I want more skating.”

After finding out she was at the bottom, Culculoglu said: “I’ve been really ill as well, and it’s like, I know it’s not an excuse, but I just got back up and, you know…”

Nile Wilson, who delivered an emotional dance to Harry Styles’ Sign Of The Times, received the highest score of the night from the judges of 29.5.

The retired Olympic gymnast, 26, who is partnered with a new addition to the 2023 line-up – ice dancer Olivia Smart, was said by Olympic skater Christopher Dean to be like a “dog with a bone” when he tries to get his movements right.

This dogged approach payed off as Diversity dance troupe founder Ashley Banjo said: “Sometimes you see a performance and have to remind yourself you’re in week one.”

The next highest score from the judges was for TV personality and former The Only Way Is Essex cast member Joey Essex, who received 27 points and widespread praise for his and professional skating partner Vanessa Bauer’s sophisticated ice dance – which featured a lunge and a lift.

Dean said: “You are a wise guy, who steals and I think tonight you stole some hearts… that last lift was amazing.”

Mabuse added: “You were stylish, you were really present, you were charming.”

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The lowest scores went to former Liberty X member Michelle Heaton, 43, and former EastEnders actress Patsy Palmer, 50, who were criticised by the judges for their “nerves” and looks of “terror”.

Banjo said of Palmer, who now works as a DJ and scored 21 points: “It’s week one and I love you, I love watching you, you have something you can’t teach, the energy the vibe, the presence.”

He also hoped she “builds more confidence” as she looked “terrified at moments”, while Torvill praised her performance where Palmer landed on one foot.

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Heaton finished her high-energy routine and received at total score of 19 points, which was praised for its lift by Dean.

He added: “I could see there was a nervousness… I want to see a little bit more commitment.”

The Wanted boy band member Siva Kaneswaran, 34, and his professional partner Klabera Komini were given thumbs up for their technical skating moves like the twizzle and the hoover and scored 24.

Torvill and Dean both praised the “technicality” of Kaneswaran’s performance.

“You have a lot to bring to the competition,” added Torvill.

Next week will welcome to the ice ex-footballer John Fashanu and professional Alexandra Schauman; Coronation Street actress Mollie Gallagher and professional Sylvain Longchambon and comedian Darren Harriott and professional Tippy Packard.

Drag queen The Vivienne, who won the first series of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, will skate with professional Colin Grafton, while soap star and West End musicals performer Carley Stenson completes the line-up with professional Mark Hanretty.

At the end of the second premiere episode, the couples with the lowest combined score from each show will compete in a skate-off to see who leaves the competition.

– Dancing On Ice airs on ITV and ITVX on Sundays.