Belfast Telegraph

Dundonald Ice Bowl's starring role in Torvill and Dean TV film

The TV film starring Poppy Lee Friar and Will Tudor was filmed at Dundonald Ice Bowl
The TV film starring Poppy Lee Friar and Will Tudor was filmed at Dundonald Ice Bowl
The real Torvill and Dean performing Ravel’s Bolero
The TV film starring Poppy Lee Friar and Will Tudor was filmed at Dundonald Ice Bowl

By James Gant

One of Northern Ireland's ice rinks will take centre stage in a TV film about figure skating duo Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean on Christmas Day.

Dundonald International Ice Bowl is the setting for much of ITV's Torvill & Dean, which tells the story of the UK's most celebrated figure skaters.

Filming for the ITV biopic took place in August, with the majority of dance scenes focusing in and around the rink.

Councillor Paul Porter of Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council said: "Following the success of Game Of Thrones, Dracula Untold and Being Julie, Northern Ireland has become a top filming location for both television shows and blockbuster features in recent years.

"I am delighted that ITV and Darlow Smithson chose Dundonald International Ice Bowl as a filming location for this must-see biopic.

"Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean are recognised as two of Britain's top competitors in the history of their sport and it is fantastic to see a feature length programme commissioned to showcase not only their lives, but ice-dancing and skating.

"The programme will well and truly put Dundonald International Ice Bowl on the map, and as Northern Ireland's only Olympic-sized ice rink open to the public, I hope it will encourage people of all ages to visit the Ice Bowl and take to the ice, whether it be part of a family outing or signing up for ice skating lessons in the council's Learn to Skate programme.

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"I look forward to sitting down on Christmas Day and viewing the programme with the rest of the nation."

Torvill (61) and Dean (60) started dancing together when they were teenagers.

They admitted on Piers Morgan's Life Stories in 2013 that they did "dabble" in romance when they were young.

The 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo saw them become household names after 24m Britons tuned in to watch their electrifying dance to Maurice Ravel's Bolero.

They got the highest score of any figure skaters in history - a record they still hold - as the routine bagged them 12 perfect 6.0s and six 5.9s, including artistic impression scores of 6.0 from all the judges.

They went on to win bronze at the 1994 Winter Olympics. But in 1998 they took a break from skating, only returning to the sport in 2006 as judges and coaches on ITV's Dancing On Ice.

The show this Christmas, written by William Ivory, whose previous work includes Made In Dagenham and Burton And Taylor, will explore their early years and family life and look at the determination that saw them become Olympic Champions.

Set in Nottingham, it will delve into Dean's humble upbringing and his emotional drive for success after his parents broke up. This contrasted with Torvill's outwardly reserved, yet determined and passionate nature.

It traces the pair's journey into figure skating and the clashes that unfolded after they separated as a couple, as well as their professionalism to skate for the gold when it mattered most.

Dean has called for passion to return to figure skating.

The nimble-footed duo are played by Poppy Lee Friar and Will Tudor.

Tudor hung up his tunic and donned the skates as he transitioned from playing Olyvar in Game Of Thrones from seasons three to five of the hit HBO show.

The 31-year-old Londoner revealed that he and Friar (23) tried not to think about playing Torvill and Dean because it would have made them "freak out".

"I don't think we could think about it, really, if we did we'd freak out a little bit," he said.

"It's only afterwards you think: 'Oh my goodness'."

But Tudor found it "liberating" when the stars gave them their blessing to put their own spin on it. "They were wonderful, that put my mind at rest hearing them say that," he said.

Torvill & Dean will air on ITV on Christmas Day at 9.15pm

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