Torville and Dean

Ice Stars
Jayne Torville and Christopher Dean
In the 1980s, champion figure skaters Jayne Torville and Christopher Dean glided their way into international fame. She was a petite blonde with a warm smile, a no fuss hairstyle and a natural radiance on the ice. He was boy-next-door meets romantic lead...clean cut and endearingly nice. On dry land they were an ordinary couple but on the ice they were a magical fusion. Not since Norwegian bombshell Sonja Henie wowed audiences in the 1930s and 40s, had a skating act garnered such public adoration, at least in the UK and Australia.

Figure-skating can be a wonderful thing to watch - elegant dancers effortlessly gliding over a shimmering expanse of white, or at least, it seems effortless, though of course, the level of practise required is gruelling. Nevertheless, there's a sense of freedom and great beauty about the figure-skater. Yet few skaters have managed to garner the kind of celebrity kudos of Henie and Torvill and Dean.

At the Top of the Game
Torville and Dean earnt their athletic credentials, having been Olympic, Britain and European world champions - at the 1984 Winter Olympics, they scored  the highest marks of any previous skaters. Post Olympics, the pair turned to the lucrative professional circuit, returning to amateur status only for the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, where they won a disappointing bronze.

They spent most of their professional life touring Europe, the US and Australia with their own show, Ice Adventures and IMG's figure-skating extravaganza, Stars on Ice. They also worked with acclaimed cellist Yo Yo Ma, spent time choreographing for other skaters and at one point filmed a fairy tale fantasy,  Fire and Ice.

Just friends
Born in Nottingham, the pair met at an iceskating rink when they were 16, although both had been skating since they were ten. (The address of the UK's National Ice-skating rink has now been changed to Bolero Place in Torville and Dean's honour.)  Prior to their joint venture into ice-skating as a career, Jayne was a clerk and Dean a policemen - were it not for a passion for skating, they may well have lived out their days in suburban normality (and obscurity).

For the bulk of their professional life the darlings of the ice world maintained a straight, wholesome image - so much so that one wit in the media was moved to dub the couple Boreville and Clean, though they themselves never viewed this as a negative. They did however, rev up their routines with steamy latin dancing in response.

On the ice, they emanated a romantic might even say, a sizzle, yet they were, apparently, never entwined in that way, much to the disappointment of their legion of fans. While it would have been so romantic, so perfectly disneyesque, if they had been lovers, they probably couldn't have worked so remarkably well together.

Though they still remain national icons in the UK, Torville and Dean's super-hot celebrity status largely evaporated by the end of the 90s and thus far, in terms of fame, they haven't been replaced - no other skaters have become such a household name around the world. Retiring the partnership in 1998, they remained friends but went off to their private lives and respective partners, in different countries - at least for a time.

Still remarkably fit and supple., n 2006 they reunited professionally to work on the  ITV series Dancing on Ice, a show which has been criticised, not only for it's alleged behind the scenes politics and romantic entanglements (involving Dean and original judge Karen Barber) but also for descending into vapid entertainment, the producers having decided to spend more money on sets that professional talent.

The Dark Side of Dean
Christopher Dean - Dancing on Ice, 2010
Some of the gloss rubbed off Dean's personal image as the result of a 1994 BBC documentary Facing the Music. It was a warts and all  documentary which lifted the flap on the couple's behind-the-scenes relationship, revealing perfectionist Dean as a sulking, demanding personality who used bully-like tactics on the passive-natured Jayne, sometimes reducing her to tears.

Such shenanigan's shatter the illusion of the flawless on ice romanticism. As one fan eloquently put it:

I think the magic of T&D is that we lesser mortals look at how inarticulate and diffident they are off ice and see our real life partners in them. When they dance, we yearn to experience (again) the expressive sensuous physical and emotional synchronicity they perfect, in our own relationships. How often do we remain in relationships hoping we can recapture the joy it was in the beginning…? There really cause an emotional yearning, if they can feel like that why can’t we? They aren’t even in a relationship and I’m not talking about the dancing. 

Despite their ethereal aura on ice, Torville and Dean are  after all, human, reflecting the same flaws and deficiencies as the general sweep of humanity:

Chris off of the ice really comes across like an average British guy, desperate to hide his deficiencies, emotionally inarticulate and over obsessed with work. In some ways his fall from grace in ‘Facing The Music’ was because he shows he doesn’t behave any better than any other guy who considers himself an alpha male, whose not getting his way with the woman he considers he’s lumbered with. 

~Many thanks to fellow blogger Bijoux for her help and allowing me to quote her for this article.