Watch: Jason Gardiner and Gemma Collins clash on Dancing On Ice
Former Dancing on Ice judge Jason Gardiner has said the new series of the show is "cold as ice" and has "lost the fun" it had in previous years.
Gardiner was a member of the show's original judging panel in 2006 and stuck around — missing just one series — until leaving the show in 2019, when he was replaced by TV star John Barrowman.
The 49-year-old choreographer told The Sun that the show had become "too toxic" for him to continue by the time he decided to leave.
He added: "I went through some very dark times after it all played out and I realised I wasn’t valued in any way, shape or form by ITV.
“I’ve attempted to watch the new series, but it’s not the same show. They all look worn down. There’s no one having a laugh. It’s as cold as ice to watch it.
"I think it’s lost the fun element. The energy is very flat and weird. It’s predictable.
"I know all the judges are going to say really nice things — they’re non-provocative. It’s just flat.”
The current series of Dancing On Ice has been hit by a series of problems, with a higher than usual rate of injuries as well as competitors Rufus Hound and Joe Warren-Plant having to drop out due to positive COVID-19 tests.
Jason Donovan became the fifth celebrity to pull out of the series this week, following the injured Denise Van Outen and Billie Shepherd, as well as Hound and Warren-Plant.
The professional skaters have also felt the sting of the unlucky 13th series, with Hamish Gaman replaced as partner of Coronation Street actor Faye Brookes and Yebin Mok forced to step aside before the series began after being inadvertently injured by Olympic skier Graham Bell.
As a result, just five celebrities remain and the series finale has been brought forward to 21 March.
Gardiner doesn't think the show should have gone ahead in the first place and described the now-truncated run as a "classic fail".
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"My personal view is, why on earth did they attempt to do something like Dancing On Ice, which is all about contact, physicality and people breathing on each other?" he said.
Gardiner added: “In their minds the public needs entertaining, and they do, but people are worn down.
“I think that’s why there has been a lot of injuries, they’re not mentally strong enough.”
Gardiner said he struggled during the first coronavirus-induced national lockdown in March 2020, until a neighbour invited him to her allotment.
He moved to Portugal before Christmas and is now a sustainable farmer, growing his own food and chopping wood to heat his home.
The star said: “I realised being outside made me happy and I enjoyed working the land. I did a course to be a permaculture designer and found work in Portugal.
"I’m so happy now and would advise young people who are out of work to do the same. There’s a life beyond the toxic world of telly.”
Watch: Jason Gardiner discusses quitting Dancing On Ice