Brendan Cole kicked off Sunday’s brand-new series of Dancing On Ice in style – as head judge Christopher Dean praised his routine as the ‘best first performance’ he’s seen in ’14 series.’
The former Strictly Come Dancing professional, 45, and dance partner Vanessa Bauer were first up in the premiere, and skated in a black sparkly number to Ram Jam’s Black Betty.
Judges Ashley Banjo, newcomer Oti Mabuse, Jayne Torvill and Christopher scored the dancing duo 30.5 out of 40.
The 63-year-old skating legend paid Brendan the biggest compliment all contestants dream of hearing.
‘Okay, that was the best first performance I’ve seen by a celebrity in all 14 series,’ he enthused.
‘Brendan you skated ten tenths, you were on the edge all the time, it could go fantastically right or fantastically wrong. But tonight you were strong, superior and masculine.’
‘But what I really appreciated was that you’re getting into the ice. Well done,’ he added.
Ashley echoed Christopher’s comments and said: ‘I could dance a little bit before I could skate, and they are completely different worlds.
‘It’s like trying to say that our dance styles are the same thing, because I can do Strictly doesn’t mean I can do what you do. So hats off, because that was incredible, like Chris said, up there, if not the best first skate, definitely one of the best first skates we’ve ever seen.
‘And if that’s where we’re starting the series, where are you two gonna go?’
‘I just know you guys are gonna give the rest of the competition trouble,’ he added.
While Jayne commented on Brendan’s ‘speed and energy,’ Oti praised the star’s performance as ‘absolutely brilliant.’
Brendan, who was lost for words, said: ‘I’m just so happy to be here. There was a lot of pressure coming in and opening the show, I wanted it to be an amazing show and I felt like you could hear my heart beating through my microphone.
‘What I’ve always said with a competition like this, and obviously there’ve been quite a few people saying, “It’s not fair, he’s a dancer” – there are a few dancers in this show, which is great, but it’s where you start and where you finish.
‘Vanessa is the most incredible teacher, coach and friend, and she’s guided me through every step and that’s what I got.’
Dancing On Ice airs on Sunday at 6.30pm.