John Barrowman warns Dancing on Ice celebs: 'I'll be critical and honest!'

Dancing on Ice 2020 John Barrowman
(Image credit: ITV)

Watch out celebs! Mr Fabulous himself John Barrowman is the new judge on Dancing on Ice. And he won't be mincing his words…

Our Sunday evenings are about to get extra-Fabulous as John Barrowman joins the Ice Panel when Dancing on Ice returns for its 12th series this week.

Aside from having 30 years experience as a performer on stage and screen, the British-American star has already been a judge on TV talent shows including Any Dream Will Do and I’d Do Anything. And, probably more importantly, Mr Fabulous himself competed in the first ever series of Dancing on Ice in 2006! Unfortunately, he was eliminated fourth. Oh dear…

Dancing on Ice Ice Panel

John alongside his fellow Ice Panellists (L-R): Ashley Banjo, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean...

The famous faces who’ll be getting their skates on this time round are: Love Island star Maura Higgins, Steps star Ian ‘H’ Watkins, Diversity performer Perri Kiely, Coronation Street actress Lisa George, Paralympian Libby Clegg, talk show host Tricia Goddard, newsreader Lucrezia Millarini, former footballer Kevin Kilbane, magician Ben Hanlin, model turned businesswoman Caprice Bourret and ex-EastEnders actor Joe Swash. After sustaining an injury, TV personality Michael Barrymore was forced to pull out and has been replaced by former Blue Peter presenter Radzi Chinyanganya.

As John – who came third in 2018’s I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here – takes his place alongside fellow judges, Diversity star Ashley Banjo and ice-dancing legends Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, he’ll have a fair idea of how the celebs will be feeling.

But that doesn’t mean they should expect an easy ride as John Barrowman, 52, reveals…

Welcome John, you’re the new kid on the block this year!

John Barrowman: "Thank you. And I like that you said kid… not the new ‘old man’ on the block!"

Having competed on the show in 2006, you’ll know how the celebrity skaters will be feeling…

JB: "Because I've actually been there on the ice, I know exactly what they're going through. I understand the nerves they’ll have when they hear the intro music and their names being announced and how they're literally feeling like they want to be sick before they go on. I know those feelings, so I'll be able to empathise with them."

What kind of judge will you be? Will you be the show’s new ‘Mr Nasty’ like Jason Gardiner was?

JB: "Like all the other shows I’ve been on as a judge, I’ll be critical but I’ll be honest. Being a performer and showman myself, I want people to be entertained, so I’ll be looking for the performance aspect of the routine. Jason and I are very good friends and I wouldn’t classify him as nasty. Likewise, I’m not nasty. I’m critical. There’s a difference."

Ex-EastEnders actor Joe Swash, Ian 'H' Watkins from Steps and talk show host Tricia Goddard are among the celebrities taking part this year. Who are you most looking forward to seeing?

JB: "I think Joe will bring a great energy to the show. I have a real soft spot for him [Joe co-hosted I’m a Celeb spin-off show Extra Camp] – if someone gives you toast, it's toast, if someone gives you Joe, it's Joe. You know exactly what you're getting with him and he’s very likeable."

Dancing on Ice 2020 Joe Swash

John Barrowman reckons ex-EastEnder Joe Swash could be one of the standout stars of Dancing on Ice...

Paralympian Libby Clegg – who is registered blind – is also taking part…

JB: "Libby has the biggest challenge ahead of her – she has to have all the moves described to her because you can’t show her what they are. It’s gonna be a spectacularly educational experience for everybody watching to understand what people have to go through who are not as able as others."

Having done the show yourself, what advice would you give the Class of 2020?

JB: "I’d say be fearless – when I did the show, I never worried about getting hurt. For me, if the performance is there, and there's a stumble, I'll overlook the stumble. But it’s the skill these celebs are coming to learn. The feeling I had when I was asked to do this show as a skater in 2006 is the same feeling I had when I was asked to do it this time as a judge: you don’t get to work with gold medallists like Jayne and Chris every day. People want to learn from the best."

Have you skated since you were on the show 14 years ago?

JB: "I’ve skated a couple of times since and I still have the exact same skates I wore back then and the Elvis costume I was voted out in. I squeezed into it recently but I’m 52, so it’s a little different now. Things have changed…"

Do you feel like you’ve come full circle?

"Absolutely! As a judge, I’m thrilled I’ll actually get to be there for the final this time!"

Dancing on Ice logo

Dancing on Ice returns on Sunday January 5 at 6pm on ITV.

Victoria Wilson
Feature Writer for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and

With over 20 years’ experience writing about TV and film, Vicky currently writes features for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week magazines plus news and watching guides for, a job which involves chatting to a whole host of famous faces. Our Vicky LOVES light entertainment, with Strictly Come Dancing, Britain’s Got Talent and The Voice UK among her fave shows. Basically, if it’s got a shiny floor, she’s all over it! When she’s not watching TV, you might find Vicky in therapy… retail therapy that is!