Dancing On Ice has introduced its first ever same-sex pairing for 2020.
The line up of Dancing On Ice contestants was confirmed earlier this year by ITV ahead of the new series starting in January.
One of those on the cast is Steps singer Ian ‘H’ Watkins who will be partnered with pro skater Matt Evers.
Ian said of the pairing ahead of the first live show: “It’s a message of love, equality and diversity.
“It’s exciting and exhilarating. For me and my children to see this is incredible. The public have been awesome. The support we’ve had has been a tidal wave or love that’s how it should be.”
And Ian tweeted: “Seeing two men dancing on the ice together would not only have made me feel accepted when I was younger but also have educated the bullies.
“So even if we survive 1 week, then I have achieved what I wanted to – Visibility and Equality. #DancingOnIce”
He added on social media following Sunday’s launch show: “Never did I think this would happen. But tonight, Matt & I have made a little piece of history!
“Thankyou for all your messages of support and for letting me be my authentic self. Thanks to @itv for championing the LGBTQ community and its ally’s. ? ⛸”
Meanwhile hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby said they were excited to see what routines the pair create on the ice.
Holly said: “It isn’t just a token pairing and I think it is going to be really interesting to watch. It will change the dynamic slightly, what they can both do, they’re strengths, their weaknesses, what they can’t do.”
Speaking to The Sun newspaper, Phil added: “What’s lovely about that is it’s a big deal this year, but then either next year when we or Strictly or whoever does it, then it won’t be.
“It can be second and it won’t be as extraordinary. It’s the dynamics of the performance, how they work together.”
The news follows the BBC hinting that Strictly Come Dancing would be opening up the door to same-sex pairings in future.
Up until now the ballroom series has kept to ‘traditional’ mixed gendered partnerships between celebrities and pro dancers.
But a spokesperson for the BBC said: “We are completely open to the prospect of same-sex pairings between celebrities and pro dancers in the future, should the opportunity arise.”
Dancing On Ice airs live on ITV from Sunday, January 5.
Other names on the line up for the next series include TV presenter and former I’m A Celebrity winner, Joe Swash; Love Islander, Maura Higgins; and TV personality and chat show legend, Trisha Goddard.
More confirmed names are American actress model, and TV personality, Caprice; Diversity dancer Perri Kiely; soap star, Lisa George and footballer Kevin Kilbane.
Meanwhile, Dancing On Ice’s judging line up will see Jayne Torvill, Christopher Dean and Ashley Banjo return to the panel, joined by new face John Barrowman MBE who replaces Jason Gardiner.