Dancing on Ice 2011

Johnson Beharry, the first man to be awarded the Victoria Cross in 20 years, was a surprise addition to the lineup of this year’s crop of Dancing On Ice contestants. We interviewed Johnson to find out whether his war injuries have affected his training and if his skating trainers are tougher than his drill sergeants from the British army.

Why did you decide to sign up for Dancing On Ice?
“The main reason for doing it is that it’s a huge challenge for me, most of all because of the physical aspect of it. I haven’t done anything this physical in about six years and I think it was a bit worrying for everyone, because I have a back injury and I have a head injury. For what I’m doing with more or less half a brain, imagine if I had all my brain, I’d be able to do a lot more.”

How was the ‘Show & Tell’ where you saw each contestant perform on the ice for the first time?
“It’s been really good. Everyone performed really well.”

Appearing on a show like Dancing On Ice must be completely different from anything you have ever done before.
“For me it’s completely different. I come from an island. The only time I’ve ever seen ice is at the bottom of my glass. I had never seen an ice rink before ten weeks ago. So it’s quite interesting seeing the things I can do now and how I was at the beginning. It’s amazing.”

Have you found the training difficult because of your war injuries?
“Since I’ve started doing it, the physical side, it’s been amazing. I used to have so much pain in my back and now it’s a lot less. I think it’s a lot to do with the posture and the way you have to carry yourself on the ice.”

Have you been wearing a helmet during training due to your head injury?
“That was just day one. Day one everyone was worried about me falling over and hitting my head again. For me I didn’t know what to expect so I just put on the helmet and I went. On the second day I was like, ‘I’m not wearing that helmet’, I don’t need it. I’m too confident to be wearing a helmet.”

Are you nervous about falling on the ice?
“No, I’m not scared about falling, but my aim is not to fall!”

Has the training you received in the army helped you stay disciplined while preparing for the show?
“I am a professional in general, but you have to be so disciplined on the ice because if you’re not you are going to fall. I think because of the discipline I have in general it has actually helped me on the ice because I haven’t been falling that much. I’ve only fallen three times. The first time I fell I was just messing around. I haven’t actually fallen while skating because I’m so focused on what I’m doing and I need to get it right.”

How do your trainers for Dancing On Ice compare to your British army trainers?
“The training is the same discipline. I used to call my first skating coach the RSM, which is more serious than a sergeant major. My trainer now is my partner Jodeyne [Higgins], she is the sergeant major because she’s a bit more soft. For me I need someone to drive me and tell me, ‘This is what you need to do, get on and do it’, and she doesn’t do that. I’m okay with anyone, you just need to show me what you want and I will do it. But most of all, don’t touch me. Just show it to me and you will get it done. Because if you touch me, I’m going to fall.”

Does the show’s change of format this year worry you, knowing that four contestants will leave within the first two weeks of the series? “For me, I go in and I’ve got a job to do. I’ll do the job 100% to the best of my abilities. It’s not down to me. So once I do my thing I will leave it to the public to decide. It’s completely out of my hands. I don’t want to go first, but if that’s the public’s choice then I have to live with it and accept it.”

Are you enjoying taking part in the series so far?
“I do five days’ training, Monday to Friday for two hours a day. On Saturday and Sunday I wake up thinking, ‘Why am I not on the ice?’ I actually miss it. I just want to go on the ice. Because I’m so driven discipline-wise I would be there at half-five in the morning, the rink wouldn’t even be open, and I’m sitting there ready to go.”

Who do you see as your main rival in the competition?
“For me I don’t have a rival. The public is mine.”

Dancing On Ice begins on January 9 on ITV1.