Katona gets skates on for ice 'therapy'

Kerry Katona said training for the latest series of 'Dancing On Ice' has been “complete therapy” – despite spraining her ribs on the rink.

Kerry Katona said training for the latest series of 'Dancing On Ice' has been “complete therapy” – despite spraining her ribs on the rink.

The reality TV star, who has endured well-documented battles with drugs and mental illness, is one of 16 figures who have got their skates on for the ITV1 show.

Katona – in pain after a failed backflip attempt on the ice – said taking part in the programme had helped her escape from her worries.

“I’ve had my ups and downs but it’s out with the old and in with the new,” she said.

“It’s complete therapy. It’s like once you get on the ice for two hours a day training, you’ve got a great partner, you’ve got great coaches, you forget about all the rubbish you get and you’re free.”

Among those joining the former Atomic Kitten singer in the line-up will be Hollyoaks actress Jennifer Metcalfe, rapper Vanilla Ice, presenter Jeff Brazier and Victoria Cross hero Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry – the first to take part in the show from outside the worlds of sport and showbiz.

L/Cpl Beharry was awarded the VC for his actions in Iraq in 2004, saving scores of colleagues in two separate ambushes with one incident leaving him with serious head injuries.

Speaking at the show’s launch at the Shepperton Studios in Surrey, England the soldier said he had signed up in a bid to inspire injured viewers.

“I’m doing this with more or less half a brain,” he said. “The message I’m trying to get out to people who are injured in all respects is, ’stop feeling sorry for yourself, adjust to your new life and this is what you can achieve’.”

Coronation Street actor Steven Arnold – whose character Ashley Peacock died during the soap’s recent 50th birthday spectacular – will join fellow ex-Weatherfield star Denise Welch, former EastEnder Sam Attwater and Australian Craig McLachlan – known for his role in Neighbours.

Ex-newsreader Angela Rippon, cricketer Dominic Cork, Chris Moyles’ BBC Radio 1 sidekick David Vitty (known to listeners as Comedy Dave) and Chloe Madeley - daughter of Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan – are also in the running.

Completing the line-up are Nickelodeon presenter Laura Hamilton, Frank Lampard’s ex-girlfriend Elen Rives and actress Nadia Sawalha.

Rippon, who admitted she was “like Bambi on ice” on her first day’s training, said the show was a challenge too good to be missed.

“You’re on the slippy stuff on a pair of dinner knives and you’ve got to stand up. It’s not easy,” the 66-year-old added.

“I always said I wanted to grow old disgracefully, and at my age I’ve got fewer years left in which I can do so.”

Although 16 have been preparing for the show since October, a rule change means only 12 aspiring skaters will get through to the competition stage.

Viewers will have the chance to whittle them down, eliminating four celebrities before they have been able to compete.

The series kicks off with two special shows on January 9 and 16 with two contestants axed during each show.

'Loose Women' star Welch said the opportunity to work with Olympic champions Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean was one of the reasons she decided to take part.

But she admitted training could prove gruelling.

“Sport and I have never been natural bedfellows. I naturally am quite lazy,” Welch joked. “The natural me would be lying with a vat of wine and watching''Dancing On Ice'.”

Other changes to the show include ice dancer Karen Barber moving from judge to head coach, a role which will allow her to fight the contestants’ corner when faced with criticism from the panel.

Spice Girl Emma Bunton and choreographer Jason Gardiner remain on the judges’ panel, along with former figure skater Robin Cousins, who is head judge.

Former judge Nicky Slater, who announced last month he was leaving the show, is not being replaced.

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