AHEAD of the launch of Dancing on Ice's 14th series this weekend, host Phillip Schofield says HALF the stars are contenders to win.
Capital FM presenter Sonny Jay was crowned last year's Dancing on Ice champion, with Coronation Street's Faye Brookes finishing as runner-up.
Twelve new celebrities swap their shoes for ice skates on Sunday, including a Coronation Street actress, a former Pussycat Doll member, a Paralympian, and a rugby player.
This year, Phillip believes a winner is "too tough to call" – because it's the "highest standard ever".
He said: "What's exciting is that our standard is higher this year than ever.
"You might think 'oh that say that every year', but in the past there are two or three people you think will win. This year it's wide open.
"Sometimes we've thought before we've even gone on air, 'oh we might have found our winner', but there's no chance of that this time."
Judge Christopher added: "It's going to be one of those competitions where it's hard to call.
"It's far more exciting to see that change all the time. It's going to be a neck and neck race."
But they wouldn't go as far as to say who they believe are the runners and riders.
Preparations are underway to make it the best series yet after last year's Covid restrictions.
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"There's no question, last year was a tough series," said Phillip, as he reflected on filming in a pandemic.
"All of the big shows on the telly found it tough. You can see how careful we're being, but you're at the mercy of it and you can only do so much."
But excitedly rehearsing for Sunday, the judges and hosts admitted boozing backstage to toast to their new co-star Oti Mabuse.
Welcoming the Strictly star with open arms to the judging panel, Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield enjoyed a tipple or two with Jayne Torvill, Christopher Dean and Ashley Banjo.
Phillip added: "We've all had a brilliant afternoon toasting Oti's arrival," before joking: "Several times. That's not the first glass."
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