Champagne’s on ‘Ice’ in showdown

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FORMER Brighouse High School student Matthew Wolfenden has skated through to the final of Dancing On Ice – and still can’t quite believe it.

The hot favourite won immunity from the dreaded skate-off on last Sunday’s show after scoring the highest number of points on the night.

Matthew and dance partner Nina

Matthew and dance partner Nina

“I am over the moon,” he said. “Learning the skating skills was one of the most nerve-racking things I have done in my life. But what a pleasure to do it and to have legends Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean watching.”

The Emmerdale actor was tipped as one of the favourites by bookies when the show started and since then he has gone from strength to strength.

“Once you put together some decent scores you have to try and keep on top of that each week, which makes me really nervous. I have grown up as a gymnast and dancer and that is why I always wanted to do my best and get better.

“It is hard week after week because your body is getting tired and you are getting more challenging routines from Chris and Jane which you have to make look clean and tidy on the ice.

“The head banger has definitely been the most difficult thing I have had to do. I always said I would never do it because of how scary it looks but then I did it on Sunday. It is ridiculous really but you just get on with what you have been told to do.

“It is obviously very competitive out there but we are always saying good luck to each other. We sometimes forget it is a competition until the time we are all stood on the ice waiting for the votes.

“That is when we realise one of us, one of our friends, will be leaving.”

Matthew says he doesn’t regret one moment. “It has been one of the best things I have done. I have spent every single day on the ice since I started. We get one day off in a week but I am usually filming for Emmerdale. And we work full weekends on the ice doing camera rehearsals and then the live show on Sunday evening. It is tiring. Even the professionals are aching.

“None of us have skated before so we have all started from scratch. Because all three of us have some kind of dance background we know how to hold ourselves and perform but from the waist down it is a different story. My partner, Nina Ulavona, is a real taskmistress and works me into the ground. She is brilliant and concentrates on the finest of details which is what I need. It it is getting scary now with only the final left and I will be sad when it finishes.”

Matthew, who used to live in Norwood Green with his parents, Ian and Janet, is generous with his praise for his fellow skaters. “I think Jorgie Porter is absolutely beautiful on the ice and always looks great. Chico is my best mate and we get on so well.”

Every week Matthew has been supported by his parents and fiancee Charley Webb.

“My family love coming to support me. They are clocking up the miles coming down to see me but they are here every weekend. All my mates and most people from work have been to watch me and they are proud of what I have achieved and pleased at how well I am doing,” he said.

The only family member who hasn’t seen Matthew perform live is his son, Buster, who is two next month.

“We have got some amazing friends who look after him on show day. They sit him in front of the TV and he has always got his little flag that he made at nursery that he waves around,” he said.

Working with Chris and Jane is also a dream come true for the 30-year-old. “It is amazing. I still cannot believe it. I get on the ice on a Monday and there are Chris and Jane. Sometimes I have to take a step back. I just think not many people get this opportunity.”

Matthew’s goal is to get the perfect score. “I would love to get a ten. It is something I am working towards but I don’t know if anyone will manage it on this show.”

This Sunday Matthew will perform his favourite routine from show eight, to Queen’s Dont’ Stop Me Now and the showcase, a routine he has put together. If he makes it into the final two he will perform the Bolero.

“It has been tough fitting every thing in. But Emmerdale has been brilliant with me, making my schedule less demanding than normal.”

Matthew was asked to take part in “Ice” a few years ago. “I didn’t even consider it and said no. I just chickened out of it. But then I thought I have got my job, Charley and our little boy. Why not just try it. I’m so glad I did.”

Matthew, who competes in the final on Sunday on ITV against Jorgie Porter and Chico, will also be taking part in the forthcoming tour. “I cannot wait for that,” said Matthew.