Joey Essex, The Vivienne and Nile Wilson have secured a place in the Dancing On Ice grand final following a dramatic double elimination.
The five remaining celebrities skated twice during Sunday’s episode before a dreaded skate-off saw the judges unanimously vote to save reality star Essex, sending home Mollie Gallagher and Siva Kaneswaran.
Coronation Street actress Gallagher, who was the only celebrity to pull off a headbanger in the series, said: “It has truly been the best experience.
“It’s everything that I thought I couldn’t do and I literally got to the semi-final.”
Co-host Phillip Schofield said to The Wanted singer Kaneswaran: “You came into this and you said ‘I can’t dance’, but I tell you what, you can skate.”
Kaneswaran said: “I’ve done everything that I aimed to do on this show, I’ve celebrated my family, my friends, Tom (Parker) and I’m just so happy and proud of all of us.”
During the show, the 34-year-old performed an emotional tribute to late bandmate Tom Parker with his professional partner Klabera Komini.
The pair skated to the band’s track Gold Forever (For Tom), which was a version re-recorded to raise money for the Brain Tumour Charity after Parker’s death aged 33.
The song, originally released in 2012, was also played at the singer’s funeral after his death in March last year, 17 months after he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour.
In the video before his performance, Kaneswaran said Parker was like a brother and the routine was for everyone who “knew and loved Tom”. He added: “This is for his memory.”
He and Komini received their highest score of 36 for the routine, which saw Parker’s widow Kelsey blowing kisses from the audience. She later told co-host Holly Willoughby: “I don’t know how he did it. Tom would be so proud of him.”
Elsewhere on the rink, Olympian Wilson and Olivia Smart made history scoring the first 10 of the series before gaining a perfect score.
The 27-year-old skated to In My Blood by Shawn Mendes, which he chose because the lyrics conveyed his mental health journey after retirement from gymnastics.
In the video before his performance, Wilson spoke about his feelings of “complete loneliness” after retiring from the sport and turning to drinking, gambling and painkillers – describing himself as being in a “scary place”.
After topping the leader board, Wilson said: “The story I told took a lot of courage to do that and this process has given me some life and some light.”
Judge Christopher Dean said: “What I loved was the raw emotion. I think you surprised yourself with what you can bring out of yourself. I hope Dancing On Ice has filled that void because that Olympic flame always burns bright.”
Oti Mabuse said: “I want to thank you for being on the show, for speaking out about mental health and letting us see you for who you really are, because that was perfection.”
Jayne Torvill said: “If this was the Olympics, you’d be a winner,” while Ashley Banjo added: “I always knew you had the physicality but finding that heart – great performers are not great because of their technique, they’re great because of their heart. Tens well deserved.”
Meanwhile, avoiding the double elimination was Drag queen The Vivienne who performed an emotional skate with partner Colin Grafton to Over The Rainbow by Eva Cassidy – securing three out of four 10s.
The 30-year-old entertainer, who rose to fame on BBC Three’s RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, said she chose the track after watching The Wizard Of Oz as a child which made her feel like “anything was possible”.
The Vivienne said she was pleased to receive their highest score of 39.5, having fallen over in the first solo group performance – which opened the show.
After falling face first on the ice, she told co-hosts Schofield and Willoughby: “My knees are hurting a little bit. We are dancing on ice, these things happen.”
Following her near-perfect second performance, she joked the fall would make a “brilliant Tik Tok video”, adding that being in the semi-final of the show meant a lot “especially at a time when drag is under attack”.
Before being unanimously saved in the skate-off, 32-year-old Essex performed a tear-jerking skate with Vanessa Bauer to High by Lighthouse Family in memory of his mother, who took her own life when he was aged 10.
In the video before his routine, Essex called himself a “mummy’s boy”, adding that the track reminded him of a time just after her death when he was in Marbella.
After scoring 38, Essex said: “I did it for my mum, I also did it for Vanessa, she lost her dad last year. There is light at the end of the tunnel.”
Struggling to hold back his tears, judge Dean said: “You did your mum proud.”
The final of Dancing On Ice will air on March 12 at 6.30pm on ITV1 and ITVX.
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