Ekin-Su Culculoglu to compete in dance-off after failing to impress viewers
Ekin-Su Culculoglu is threatening to go home after a public vote landed her in the dance-off as six celebrities competed in the first episode of Dancing On Ice 2023.
The judges loved the steamy performance of the 28-year-old Love Island winner and her professional partner Brendyn Hatfield on Britney Spears’ Toxic – but they were disappointed with their skating skills.
Culculoglu scored 21.5 points from the judges, which wasn’t the lowest score on Sunday night when the first group of skaters took to the ice at ITV’s Split premiere.
However, combined with the public vote for her favorites at home, she ended up in the end and now faces one of five celebrities set to compete next week.
Former Strictly Come Dancing judge Oti Mabuse said she “loved” Culculoglu’s performance as she was “hot, hot, hot – from the outfit to the makeup”.
Olympic skater Jayne Torvill agreed it was “sexy” but said, “I want to skate more.”
After finding out she was bottom, Culculoglu said, “I’ve been really sick too, and it’s like I know it’s not an excuse, but I just got back up and, you know…”
Nile Wilson, who delivered an emotional dance to Harry Styles’ Sign Of The Times, received the highest score of the evening from the jury with 29.5.
The retired Olympic gymnast, 26, who works with a new addition to the 2023 lineup – ice dancer Olivia Smart – has been dubbed a “dog with a bone” by Olympic skater Christopher Dean when trying to get his moves right.
That dogged approach paid off when diversity dance group founder Ashley Banjo said, “Sometimes you see a performance and you have to remember you’re in week one.”
The judges’ second-highest score went to TV personality and former member of the cast of The Only Way Is Essex, Joey Essex, who received 27 points and plaudits for his and his professional skating partner Vanessa Bauer’s polished ice dance – which included a lunge and a lift included.
Dean said, “You’re a wise guy who steals and I think tonight you stole some hearts…that last lift was amazing.”
Mabuse added: “You were stylish, you were really present, you were charming.”
The lowest scores went to former Liberty X member Michelle Heaton, 43, and former EastEnders actress Patsy Palmer, 50, who were criticized by judges for their “nerves” and “terrorist” looks.
Banjo said of Palmer, who now works as a DJ and scored 21, “It’s week one and I love you, I love watching you, you have something you can’t teach, the energy, the vibe, the presence .”
He also hoped she “builds more confidence” as she looked “currently terrified,” while Torvill praised her performance that saw Palmer land on one foot.
Heaton finished her high-energy routine and earned a total score of 19 points, which Dean praised for her lift.
He added, “I could see there was a nervousness … I want to see a little bit more commitment.”
The Wanted Boyband member Siva Kaneswaran, 34, and his professional partner Klabera Komini were praised for their technical skating moves like Twizzle and Hoover, and scored 24 points.
Torvill and Dean both praised the “technicality” of Kaneswaran’s performance.
“They have a lot to teach the competition,” Torvill added.
Ex-soccer player John Fashanu and pro Alexandra Schauman will be guests on the ice next week; Coronation Street actress Mollie Gallagher and pro Sylvain Longchambon as well as comedian Darren Harriott and pro Tippy Packard.
Drag queen Vivienne, who won series one of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, will skate with pro Colin Grafton, while soap star and West End musical performer Carley Stenson completes the line-up with pro Mark Hanretty.
At the end of the second premiere episode, the couples with the lowest total points from each show compete in a skate-off to see who exits the competition.
– Dancing On Ice airs Sundays on ITV and ITVX.