Jason Gardiner shares childhood bullying and how he danced in secret

·4-min read
Jason Gardiner was a Dancing on Ice Judge since the show started. (Getty)
Jason Gardiner was a Dancing on Ice Judge since the show started. (Getty)

Jason Gardiner has revealed he used to go to dance classes 'on the sly' as a youngster, having grown up being told 'boys don't dance'.

But he explained to Kate Thornton on the White Wine Question Time podcast, being told he couldn't do something gave the former Dancing On Ice judge 'fuel' to prove people wrong and go out and do it anyway.

He also spoke about being bullied at school, including being stabbed with a compass, and how his dad's alcoholism and changes in mood led him to be so 'sensitive now to the energy in a room'.

The Australian, who left the show in 2019 after a feud with reality star Gemma Collins, spoke about the 'toxic' situation he found himself in on the ITV programme and about his lifestyle change now, working in perma-culture and building sustainable homes for refugees and schools.

He said: "I remember when I was told that boys can't dance, boys don't dance. I then took it upon myself to find a local dance school.

"I went there on the sly, every Saturday morning to take ballet class. I'm somebody that when you tell me 'no' or that I can't do something, it fuels me to want to go and do it and prove you wrong."

WATCH: Jason Gardiner on his Dancing On Ice exit, his new life in nature, and his return to panto this year

He said that growing up in Australia in the 80s, in a 'very closed, very small-minded town', he was told that boys did footie, cricket, soccer and hockey but that it was 'inconceivable' that a boy would dance.

Gardiner added that he loved the words 'no' and 'can't', saying: "That's all I need. It's like a red flag to a bull. I have to go for it then and either fail, but at least attempt to do something about it."

The 50-year-old said he was 'heavily bullied' at school, and remembered being expelled when he was stabbed in the back with a compass.

Read more: Jason Gardiner says ITV 'threatened to sack me over Dancing on Ice bust-up with Gemma Collins'

But he didn't want to tell his parents about the bullying and the homophobic slurs he was called at school.

Dancing on Ice judge Jason Gardiner at a photocall for the launch of the new series of 'Dancing on Ice' at the ITV Studios, in central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday January 3, 2013. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Dancing on Ice judge Jason Gardiner at a photocall for the launch of the new series, 2013. (Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)

"I was too embarrassed to go back home to my mum and dad," he said, "and tell them, because of the shame that I knew it would bring if I told them that I was being bullied."

On his childhood, Gardiner said he didn't have to 'worry about anything' but he wouldn't describe it as a happy home life.

Listen to the full episode to hear more about Jason's new life and how his friend's allotment was the start of him leaving the world of entertainment behind

He's previously spoken about his adoptive mother, calling her an 'amazing woman' but told Thornton there were problems at home that he didn't want to add to as an adopted child.

He said watching Oliver Twist left him worried he would go end up in some 'Dickensian orphanage' again if he wasn't good.

"There were a lot of problems that were happening at home that I didn't want to add to. I was the eldest son, and I was also adopted," he said.

"I felt so insecure all my life, because I didn't feel like I had any solid ground. And if I wasn't perfect, if I made too many problems for my family, I lived in this fear that somehow I would be sent back to the orphanage, which is completely nuts."

Read more: Ex-'Dancing On Ice' judge Jason Gardiner now a sustainable farmer in Portugal

He described his father's battle with alcoholism, which stemmed from a heart attack after he had saved a family from the back of a car that was being crushed by a concrete pylon in his work as a firefighter.

At 34, his father had to leave the fire service, didn't know what he wanted to do and 'ended up turning to alcohol' Gardiner said.

(left to right) Ashley Banjo, Jason Gardiner, Phillip Schofield, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean attending the Dancing on Ice Photocall held at the Natural History Museum, London. Photo credit should read: Doug Peters/EMPICS Entertainment
Ashley Banjo, Jason Gardiner, Phillip Schofield, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean at the Dancing on Ice launch. (EMPICS Entertainment)

He said: "Sometimes you would feel the energy change in the house. "That's why I guess I'm so sensitive now to an energy in a room, or when I meet people, is because I was attuned to that from such a young age of knowing whether or not dad was going to be in a good mood, or whether he was going to be in a bad mood depending on how much he'd had to drink."

Gardiner called his dad 'a great Aussie battler' and said he had stopped drinking long ago but that the fire service incident was a turning point for him.

He added: "He's been very clean and sober, and cleaned up his act. But in terms of his outlook on life, that that moment definitely broke him. It changed his life completely."

WATCH: Jason Gardiner on his major new life shift, from talent show judge to building sustainable houses