Dancing on Ice viewers were left stunned as the ITV competition broke tradition with its latest elimination.
In a big change for the long-running programme, hosted by Holly Willoughby and Stephen Mulhern, two couples left the competition after the pair that received the fewest votes from the viewing public was immediately cut from the running. Usually, only one couple from the bottom two is knocked out of the programme after performing a final “skate-off” routine.
Emmerdale actor Roxy Shahidi and her dance partner Sylvain Longchambon received the lowest scores from judges’ marks and viewer votes combined, and were automatically eliminated from the show on Sunday (11 February).
Shahidi had been recovering from a shoulder injury at the time of her performance.
“I’m so, so sorry, it’s such a brutal way to go out like this,” Willoughby commiserated, adding that she was “gutted” for the pair.
In response, Shahidi noted that she had been looking forward to performing again.
“I’m really, without sounding too narcissistic, I’m really proud of what I’ve learned, what I’ve done,” she said, before praising Longchambon for his support.
“This guy’s been amazing, and the whole experience has been incredible.”
Soon after this, stand-up comedian Lou Sanders and her professional partner Brendyn Hatfield were also knocked out of the competition after all four judges voted to save the third couple in the bottom three, former EastEnders star Ricky Norwood and Annette Dytrt.
Though Sanders and Hatfield performed a passionate routine to Pink’s “Try”, Norwood and Dytrt’s performance, soundtracked by the Shawn Mendes song “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back”, was favoured by the panel.
Sanders was upbeat about her departure, quipping: “It’s all about never giving up, so we will be back next week.”
In response, viewers have shared their shock at the elimination, with many unimpressed with the choice of eliminees.
“I had no idea who Lou Sanders was until #DancingOnIce but I am SICK of them putting her on early and the judges undermarking her every single week when she was delivering solo synchronised step sequences in WEEK 1… AXE these judges...” one X/Twitter user wrote.
One viewer expressed their disappointment in Shahidi’s injury not being taken into consideration by judge Christopher Dean: “Like, did Chris not watch the VT where Roxy said she had an injured shoulder? I’d say that’s why she didn’t do what she was doing in training…”
Other viewers shared their support for Sanders, with one writing: “Incredibly proud of Lou, she did brilliantly in the face of some ITV chicanery, she can hold her head up very high, an excellent skater and a great all-round person tbh x.”
Elsewhere in the series, viewers have been receptive to a perceived change in presenter Willoughby for this new run of the show.
Dancing on Ice continues on Sunday 18 February at 6.25pm on ITV1 and ITVX.