Former Liberty X singer Michelle Heaton has said Dancing On Ice has always been on her bucket list but it was never the right time because she was battling addiction.
The 43-year-old said she now feels “really strong and ready” to compete on the ITV talent contest after embarking on a journey of recovery from drug and alcohol problems.
Heaton, who is partnered with professional skater Lukasz Rozycki, said: “I’ve always watched the show and I’m a massive fan of the show. My band mate Jessica (Taylor) did it many years ago and I’ve always wanted to do the show, but it’s never been my time.
“I’ve suffered from addictions so even though I’ve always wanted to do the show and my name has been in the hat, it was never the right time.
“I want to do it because it’s always been on my bucket list. The show is magical, the costumes and doing something that is different and outside my box.
“I’m not a professional dancer, I’m a popstar and a performer, but I’m not professional at anything. I’ve had to get some confidence back with my recovery and I think it’s the right time.”
She also said the Dancing On Ice experience is bringing “a lot of happiness” to her family, who have been her “support system through recovery”, and she is most looking forward to making her two children proud.
Heaton said she is a “massive fan of all the judges” on the show, particularly Diversity star Ashley Banjo.
She added: “Ashley choreographed my performance for The Real Full Monty so I’ve been very fortunate to work with him. I’ve got so much respect for him as a creative dancer.
“Whatever the feedback is, I will accept it because they know more than me. I’ll accept it with decorum and grace.”
Meanwhile, 26-year-old gymnast Nile Wilson, who won a bronze medal in the men’s horizontal bar at the 2016 Olympics, said “feedback is the breakfast of champions”.
He said: “Gymnastics is a sport where we get judged and we get told what we’re doing wrong every day. I won’t feel disheartened or upset, it’s going to be completely normal for me.”
Wilson, who retired in 2021 due to injuries, admitted it can be a “struggle to find real purpose” after retirement, and learning to ice skate is “essentially a new sport”.
Wilson, who is partnered with Olivia Smart, said: “I’m excited to feel like a professional athlete again. I’m going to take my training seriously. I’m a competitor so I really, really want to win. There is a fire inside of me that makes me a competitor.
“It’s going to be a really amazing experience. With my gymnastics background I’m body-aware and I’m really passionate about doing something on the ice that no other contestant has done before – I really want to shock the viewers and almost make history.”
Judges and former Olympic champions Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean have said they are particularly excited to watch Wilson on the ice given his gymnastic capabilities.
Dancing On Ice returns on January 15 at 6.30pm on ITV1 and ITVX.