Page last updated at 08:43 GMT, Friday, 8 January 2010

Celebs get ready to break the ice

By Emma Saunders
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Heather Mills
Mills took part in Dancing with the Stars in the US in 2007

The tinsel and baubles have been put away for another year and the cold shows no signs of letting up.

But if you're pining for the Christmas glitz and can't face leaving the sofa to take on the freezing temperatures, ITV1's Dancing On Ice may be the answer.

Now in its fifth year, the ice skating contest featuring famous - and some not-so-famous - names is back with 14 new contestants and an extra judge on the panel, former Spice Girl Emma Bunton.

Presumably, the publicity boost is the main attraction for those asked to do the show, rather than the gruelling training and constant threat of injury.

But there are more personal reasons for some, including Boyzone's Mikey Graham.

The singer described his participation as a tribute to former Boyzone member Stephen Gately, who died last year.

"The show has been a bit of a life raft, a saving grace... for me to keep very focused on something. It's been a lovely experience and hopefully, he (Stephen) will be up there looking down on me and giving me a hand," says Graham.

Gately also took part in the show in 2007.

Mikey Graham
Graham fell badly on his shoulder on the first day of training

Graham says his only regret was that he was not able to tell Gately he would be taking part in the show when he saw him for the last time at a record company meeting just days before his death - he had been sworn to secrecy.

For Sir Paul McCartney's ex-wife Heather Mills, the contest is a real personal challenge.

Her injuries so far have included a fractured rib, a shifted pelvis and a torn rotator cuff.

Has she not considered quitting?

"I'm doing this for charity, I've just got to do it," she says.

Mills did not think she could take part at first, having done an internet search on amputee ice skaters and not finding any information.

Mills lost her leg in a road accident and uses a prosthetic limb - she has had to find alternative ways to create a routine as she cannot move her ankles in the same way as the other competitors.

"They won't bend the rules for me," she says.

Dancing on Ice contestants
Actress Emily Atack
Olympic swimmer and presenter Sharron Davies
Comedian and actor Bobby Davro
Boyzone's Mikey Graham
GMTV's Dr Hilary Jones
Actor Gary Lucy
Charity campaigner Heather Mills
Author Tana Ramsey
Hollyoaks actor Kieron Richardson
Actor Jeremy Sheffield
Singer and presenter Sinitta
Actress Hayley Tamaddon
Actress Danniella Westbrook
Former Coronation Street actor Danny Young

"There are bits I can do that nobody else can do and lots of bits I can't do that everyone else can do."

But there are some advantages.

She has vegan ice boots made especially for her in America: "Everyone else is like 'my feet are killing me' and I'm saying 'I'm in slippers.'"

Mills has warned producers that she will need a back-up routine if she cannot fit her prosthetic leg on.

"As any amputee will know, some days the leg is great but some days the leg swells up and you can't get your socket on," she explains.

Many of the celebrities taking part will be bringing friends and family for support.

But Sinitta's former boyfriend and close friend Simon Cowell has told her he will only come to see her if she makes it to the final.

"I wouldn't let him anywhere near training... I don't think he's ever skated," Sinitta says.

"All Simon has done is tease me."

Having sat behind the X Factor judges week in week out, is she scared of the judges, in particularly the often acerbic Jason Gardiner?

"After Simon, I can handle Jason," Sinitta says.

Stodgy food

Mills is equally unfazed by the judging panel.

"I've had more criticism than anyone in the entire history of the planet, so I can promise you fair criticism about my skating will just wash over me."

Gordon Ramsay's wife Tana was persuaded by her husband to do the show. She says he has been "really supportive" of her efforts.

"He's the one I go home and cry to when I've had a bad training session. He's been amazing."

Tana Ramsay
Ramsay will not be wearing anything too skimpy on the show

The celebrity chef has also been cooking up foods including baked beans and sausage and mash when his wife has returned home hungry and exhausted.

"He has just been amazed at the amount of food I can put away at the moment," she says.

The 35-year-old felt a bit apprehensive about the skimpy outfits.

"My first outfit had a big cut-out in the front and I said 'that's not going to happen!' - I've had four kids plus my 12-year-old would be mortified at me dressing like an 18-year-old."

So the programme agreed to one of her costumes being altered to cover up the cut-out.

While most of the women are looking forward to the flamboyant costumes, a few of the men are more reticent.

"I'm not at ease right now with the lycra and sequins," says The Bill star Gary Lucy, who is more used to a policeman's uniform.

Daniella Westbrook, who played Sam Mitchell in EastEnders, is looking forward to appearing as just herself on the show.

"Sam's not the most forgiving character so it's nice for people to see me as me."

Most of the contestants have had their fair share of injuries during the three months' training ahead of the first live show on Sunday.

Luckily, GMTV's resident GP, Dr Hilary Jones, is also taking to the ice.

The oldest celebrity taking part at the age of 56, he will be on hand to help should anything go wrong during the contest.

"I'll have a stethoscope and bandages handy on the night and lots of ibuprofen - I know where the morphine is, kids!"

The Dancing on Ice launch show is on Friday 8 January at 9pm. The first live show is on Sunday 10 January at 6.45pm.

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