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Archive - Tuesday, 10 January 2006
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Torvill and Dean get their skates on again
Internationally renowned skater Jayne Torvill has spoken for the first time about skating again with Christopher Dean.
The pair have reunited to take part in ITV1's Dancing Ice, eight years after ending one of the most enduring careers in skating.
Jayne, who settled in Heathfield, East Sussex, with her husband Phil Christensen - an event producer who used to run the Torvill & Dean shows - while Chris moved to the US, said: "We'd skated together for 20 odd years.
"We'd danced every day together and to not have that for almost a decade, then suddenly come back and do it again, performing demonstrations for the celebrities, it was all very familiar and comfortable."
Now, for the first time in eight years, the couple who won the hearts of the nation back in 1984, when they took gold for their ice dancing routine at the Olympic Winter Games in Sarajevo, are skating together again.
But instead of returning to their hugely successful ice dancing shows, or limbering up for another crack at the Olympics, they're trying their hand at something new - teaching a handful of celebrities how to ice dance.
In a twist on the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing format, ITV has come up with Dancing On Ice, in which a group of well-known faces vie for the public vote to be named the best ice dancer and the overall winner.
Chris, 47, said: "It was great getting back together because, you know, we're best friends."
There was a time when Jayne, 48, and Chris were often mistaken for a couple. It happens rarely these days.
Both are married with children - Jayne has a three-year-old son Kieran while Chris has two sons Jack, eight, and five-year-old Sam.
But often throughout their careers people suspected a romantic connection, particularly after seeing them perform together.
Chris said: "It was the same with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
"People would see them on screen and naturally assume they must date each other because they looked so good together."
Jayne added: 'It was because the stories we would tell through skating were romantic. We were quite chuffed that people thought we were a couple because that meant they related to it. We were doing our job in a sense."
That connection took time to build. They were put together in 1975 by Nottingham coach Janet Sawbridge after Jayne's former partner had moved away. At 14 she was getting too old to start single skating, but Chris was more than willing to pair up with her.
While Jayne worked from nine to five as an insurance clerk, Chris was a policeman working shifts. If he finished at 10pm, she would head to the ice rink when most were thinking about going to bed.
Chris said: "What kept us going was we started to get better at what we did. Jayne added: "And we knew that the more training time we had, the quicker we improved."
It paid off. In 1984 they earned a place in history as the only couple ever to score nine 6.0s for artistic impression (the highest possible score) in ice dancing at the Winter Olympics.
Their routine to Ravel's Bolero in the now iconic purple and gold braid costumes is an unforgettable piece of television, not only for the amount of times it has been replayed.
Their success enabled them to turn professional and for the next ten years they toured the world with their ice shows. But in 1994 they re-amateurised to compete in the Winter Olympics at Lillehammer.
They only managed bronze. Jayne said: "Obviously we went there to win because that's where we'd left it. So we were disappointed, but at the same time it had more of an impact us not winning because we got more attention.
"It actually gave us a new career because it brought us a new audience."
They carried on professionally for another four years before their retirement. Now they're loving being at the forefront of bringing skating to the masses again.
Jayne said: "It'd be great if this show is a success. We'd love to create a following of people who want to watch skating, and it would bring skating back into people's lives again."