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Two years after she left Coronation Street, Faye Brookes is finally back on ITV - in a very different guise.
For the past three months the actress, who played Kate Connor in the soap, has been training for the 13th season of Dancing On Ice. While you might think Brookes has an advantage as a trained dancer, she has certainly faced challenges in her preparations.
She told us who her biggest competition is and how she’s been bonding with the other girls on the show.
1. What do you think your strengths and weaknesses are on the ice?
I’ve been told that my lines are my strength. I think that’s just my dance training, my background – to extend my arm to extend my leg. But then my downfall is that my dance training is actually the opposite to what you should be doing on the ice.
Denise [van Outen] agreed with me – we spoke about it – that we both have had training and we’re both from a musical theatre background that actually on the ice goes against you because it’s not 100% correct with how they skate and the alignment and how you should set your arms and your feet so that has been like I have to retrain my brain! That’s been the challenge.
2. Who would you say is your biggest competition?
It’s been really difficult to not be able to be with everybody and watch everybody else skate. But from Sunday [the first show of the series], watching those six contestants, I think Rebekah Vardy is very good on the ice – very confident. She’s a natural. I’m slightly worried – she’s definitely the one I want to beat.
3. How important is it to get top scores?
They were scoring on Sunday - I thought it was quite low. I thought they could have scored them higher from my point of view, but I’m not a judge on Dancing on Ice.
I suppose we all have to start somewhere and I think that’s what’s so lovely about the show – yes, we’ve had three months’ training but now it’s all about to get very technically difficult and it’s going to get quicker and we have to learn choreography faster. This is like a train – you’ve just got to jump on it and go with it. It’s probably going to fly by.
For me, I am slightly competitive – you don’t want to be against me in a game, I get a bit mean! I’m not about to fall or get stressed out – I really want to enjoy it. I just feel so lucky to be on this show. I obviously want to do well and we’re working so hard that I think we should all do really well. But it’s anyone’s competition this year because I think the line-up is incredible.
4. How do you bond with the other contestants despite Covid restrictions?
It’s been so different. I know that the rest of the pros that have done the show before are saying "It’s never been like this. We’d usually all be socialising together or even just spending downtime with one another".
We’ve just had to be super, super careful for the sake of the show, for the sake of our health and anyone else around us who potentially could be affected by Covid-19. So we’re just making sure that we are being careful.
Denise [van Outen] made a girl WhatsApp group and I love that, so the girls are rallying together to make sure we give each other 100% support. I know that the pros all have a WhatsApp group too.
We have all been completely separated the entire three months. Hamish and I are the only ones that train at Altrincham up north and everybody else is dispersed everywhere, wherever they can get ice time.
Because of that separation we’ve not had the quality time you would normally get to get to know the other contestants and that has made it a little bit more difficult, but I have to say the person I’ve probably spent the most time with so far is Sonny [Jay] and I love him, I think he’s brilliant. I think he’s a dark horse in the competition too!
5. How do you feel about the injuries sustained so far in the competition?
When we all signed up to do the show, naturally there’s a worry because it’s dangerous. I think I actually said in the past it’s the only reality show I would never do – cut to 2021 and I was like "Yeah I’ll do it!" because I just love the idea of this new challenge. Over the past year, I’ve decided "Why not?". Life’s too short.
And with that, just being super careful as well – Hamish taught me how to fall in a certain way to protect myself, to tuck my chin in, little things like that have been really helpful.
Obviously other contestants have had really awful injuries or even just scares. I’ve been really lucky I’ve had someone like Hamish to catch me – he’s very strong. I think because he’s a coach as well, he’s not just a pro, he might see that I’m going to fall over if I try this trick, so he’s always there to catch me.
I feel quite lucky that I’ve not had anything yet – touch wood! Nothing’s gone wrong, just a few bruises, but I can take the bruises.
6. Have you had any advice from anyone who’s been on the show before?
Brooke [Vincent, 2018 runner-up and Sophie Webster in Coronation Street] seems to think that I’ve got the upper hand because I’m a dancer.
Jane [Danson, Corrie's Leanne Battersby and 2019 contestant] has seen me at Altrincham between the lockdowns when people were allowed to skate at Altrincham ice rink.
She actually came along with her family during half-term break. She was like "I absolutely love it, I’ve fallen in love with it – and if you have, just go with it, just enjoy every second of it because you don’t know when it’s your last skate". And I think that’s the nicest advice – just be present and enjoy it.
7. What do you think about the golden ticket feature this year?
Yeah I didn’t know about that! That was sneaky!
I’m so thrilled for Rufus [Hound] because out of everybody his skate was so unforgettable, it was so unique and I think that’s what we should all be aiming to do – just give the audience at home a real feelgood, fun, epic, memorable skate. It’s entertainment at the end of the day.
I don’t know who’s going to get the golden ticket out of our six, I really don’t, it could be anyone’s because you don’t know what everybody else is bringing to the competition. I haven’t seen anybody else skate. So it could be anyone’s!
Dancing On Ice airs on Sundays at 6pm on ITV.