EX-Dancing on Ice judge Jason Gardiner has blasted the ITV show as “flat, worn-out and cold as ice” and said it misses his scathing criticisms.
Jason also attacked the channel for putting on the show during a pandemic and risking spreading Covid.
He also revealed he had crippling anxiety in lockdown last year — and that his bust-up with Gemma Collins on the programme left him mentally strained.
Jason, who left the series in 2019, said: “By the end the show was too toxic.
“I went through some very dark times after it all played out and I realised I wasn’t valued in any way, shape or form by ITV.
“I’ve attempted to watch the new series, but it’s not the same show. They all look worn down. There’s no one having a laugh, it’s as cold as ice to watch it. I think it’s lost the fun element.
“The energy is very flat and weird. It’s predictable. I know all the judges are going to say really nice things — they’re non-provocative. It’s just flat.”
Last week producers announced this year’s series would be cut short after a spate of injuries to contestants and pros as well as Covid cases.
Ex-Corrie star Faye Brookes had to be given a new partner after her original pro Hamish Gaman got injured.
Actress Denise van Outen and Towie’s Billie Shepherd also had to quit after tumbles in training.
Meanwhile, Covid did for Rufus Hound, Joe-Warren Plant and his pro partner Vanessa Bauer.
And Jason believes the injury count is so high because contestants are “not mentally strong enough” to cope with the pressures of the show amid the strict Covid regulations.
He said: “My personal view is, why on earth did they attempt to do something like Dancing On Ice, which is all about contact, physicality and people breathing on each other?
“You can’t go out dancing, but here we are watching celebrities dance on ice with a pro skater in a pandemic and still spreading Covid, even though they’re under strict quarantine measures. Why would you even try?
“They should never have done it in the first place and it’s playing out now they’re going to have to shorten the show — that’s a classic fail, in my view.
“There’s also the extra pressure on the NHS. There are adverts telling us to stay home, every injury and hospital appointment is obviously a strain the NHS does not need right now.
“In their minds the public needs entertaining, and they do, but people are worn down.
“I think that’s why there has been a lot of injuries, they’re not mentally strong enough.”
And the Australian choreographer, 49, tore into producers for using his scenes to “save” the highlights show last weekend.
It included his bust-ups with reality star Gemma, 40, Benidorm actor Tim Healy, 69, and choreographer Karen Barber, 59.
Jason said: “I’m not even on the show any more and they’re having to use all of my material to cobble together an interesting highlights show to save their a**.
“I didn’t even get notified they were doing it. For the most part, my Twitter feed was viewers saying, ‘The show needs Jason’.
“I’m sure they won’t pay me, they own everything for the rest of your life. It would be nice for them to acknowledge me though.
“I wasn’t just a judge, I was known as THE judge that everybody’s waiting to hear from, whether you love or hate me.
“I got people engaging with the show. I gave the show spice and it always propelled the celebrities to do better.”
Jason is still hurt about his clash with Towie star Gemma two years ago, describing it as “traumatic”.
He consulted his lawyers after she accused him live on air of “selling stories” about her — a claim he vehemently denied.
And he said he believes she was only on the show in the first place because producers were focused on how many followers she has on social media.
He said: “At the show’s height in 2009 the special guest star was Bette Midler — now it’s Gemma Collins. It’s just because she had a big social media following.”
Jason said he feels unsupported by ITV after leaving — and he called hosts Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield “disingenuous”.
He said: “I had a text from Holly and Phil saying they were sorry they hadn’t been in contact.
“It was weird. On the one hand they were apologising, but if I’m honest it was to do damage-limitation.
“I’ve never heard anything more from Holly or Phil since, not that I expect to either. It’s not like, ‘Oh God — why aren’t they my friends?’
“It’s got nothing to do with that, it’s more about all the time on This Morning about people’s mental health and everything and it’s like, ‘How disingenuous, do you just say that stuff, but you don’t actually give a s**t about it?
“Surely you would check in with somebody. It’s a lot of smoke and mirrors in telly but over 15 years I can see there’s a lot that I added to that show. ITV would agree through gritted teeth.”
But the show took its toll on Jason’s mental health and he was left crippled with anxiety last year.
He said: “In the first lockdown I had the worst panic. I spiralled. I didn’t leave my bedroom for five days.
“I was worried sick, I couldn’t eat or sleep. I didn’t know how I was going to survive.
“A friendly neighbour invited me to her allotment to help out and keep me busy and a weight lifted.
“I realised being outside made me happy and I enjoyed working the land. I did a course to be a permaculture designer and found work in Portugal.
“I’m so happy now and would advise young people who are out of work to do the same, there’s a life beyond the toxic world of telly.”
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