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- British television presenter
Dancing On Ice contestant Ria Hebden has explained why the show's strict COVID protocols have made learning difficult routines even trickier this year.
The TV presenter is taking part in the 2022 series of the notoriously tough show, which last year saw a record five contestants forced to drop out through injury and illness with two of them contracting COVID.
Read more: Meet the Dancing On Ice 2022 contestants
Lorraine star Hebden explained to Yahoo UK that while there were strict COVID rules in place to keep the cast and crew safe, it made mastering the skating even harder than in other years.
She said: "It's been very strict, we're tested every week, we work in really tight bubbles, it's just me and Lukasz (Rozycki, her skating partner) all the time.
"The coaches who come to our training have masks on all the time, they're not allowed to touch us which makes it harder I think because in previous years the coaches were able to support you in learning the lifts and they haven't been able to do that this year, which for me has made it harder to pick up how to position yourself for the lifts because people haven't been able to show me."
She continued: "In previous years, a female coach would have been able to skate with Lukasz to show me the lifts.
"But I admire the discipline and the commitment that everyone's put into it, I mean it really is extraordinary to think they were able to even put on the show last year under the circumstances."
Hebden, 39, said she was hoping restrictions would lift enough during the series to be able to spend more time with her co-stars.
Read more: Who are the Dancing On Ice 2022 judges?
"We would really love to be able to hug each other because we're all in it together," she said. "But as the months go by I'm hoping we'll be able to have a wrap party and dance the night away."
She added: "It's made me appreciate how much television plays a part in lifting people's spirits and making people feel good. To be part of this joyful, colourful show at this tough time of year when it's cold and miserable, and the ongoing worries about COVID, it's really special to be a part of it."
Dancing On Ice begins on Sunday, January 16, at 6.30pm on ITV.
Watch: Bez suffers dramatic head-banging fall in Dancing On Ice training