The Wanted’s Siva Kaneswaran said he was inspired to “face his fears” and sign up for Dancing On Ice after witnessing the “infectious” courage of his late bandmate Tom Parker after his brain tumour diagnosis.
The 34-year-old singer said he had been reminded that “life was worth living” after Parker’s death in March age 33 and agreed to appear on the 15th series of ITV’s ice-skating competition alongside a new batch of celebrities.
Kaneswaran said: “I’ve decided this year to do a lot of things that I’d never do and face my fears. Obviously, this year has been eye-opening for me with Tom and witnessing his courage, which was infectious to say the least.
“It reminded me that life was worth living and to take it all and to enjoy it.
“From that, I’ve been making decisions based on that, doing my driving test finally in Los Angeles, booking the flight I wanted to always go on, and signing up to a song-writing degree course.
“In comparison, it’s just not as scary anymore, all my fears have shrunk.”
Parker, who announced in October 2020 he had been diagnosed with stage four glioblastoma, died at a hospice near the south-east London home he shared with his wife Kelsey and their two children.
His bandmates, Nathan Sykes, Jay McGuiness, Max George and Kaneswaran were pallbearers at his funeral.
Kaneswaran, who is partnered with professional ice-skater Klabera Komini on ITV’s Dancing On Ice, said he would “love” for his bandmates to watch him skate as it is the “scariest thing” he has ever done.
He added: “It’s always nice to get someone there in your corner in case you fall.
“Jay has obviously won Strictly Come Dancing so I need that winning attitude.
“I’d love for all the boys to come down and support me at some point. Me and Jay have done Hunted and we won that, and Jay has won Strictly Come Dancing so we’re a team of winners – it’s expected of me to win.”
Meanwhile, Love Island winner Ekin-Su Culculoglu said she was feeling confident ahead of her skating debut with professional partner Brendyn Hatfield.
She said: “I’ve never been scared in my life, I’ve never been nervous in my life, I’ve always been confident.
“I think the only time I’d be nervous would be at the final. I know I’m going to fall and hurt myself because in life you fall and hurt yourself. I’m ready.”
The 28-year-old Turkish actress won over viewers on the hit ITV dating show with her fiery relationship with Italian business owner Davide Sanclimenti, who she said is her “number one supporter”.
Dancing On Ice co-host Holly Willoughby said she was “really excited” that Culculoglu had joined the show – which she described as an “antidote” to the January blues.
The 41-year-old said: “I’m a massive Love Island fan. She’s a brilliant character and she’s a woman who knows what she wants and goes and gets it. She looks gorgeous, she’s going to look like an angel on the ice.
“I’m thinking she will put that determination into her boots and we’re going to see something wonderful from her.”
Meanwhile co-host Phillip Schofield, 60, said it was a “massive relief” that their show was set to return following the “tricky times” of the pandemic.
He said: “We seem to have left the worst threat of Covid behind us and we can begin to get back to some normality. It was tricky last year and hopefully a lot easier this year.
“I think it’s one of those things where you just want something back. It was so lovely to see I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! back in the jungle where it should be.
“We’ll be back hopefully with a full audience.”
Schofield added he was looking forward to seeing reality star Joey Essex skate because he has always adored him and thinks he will “throw himself into it”.
Essex, 32, who is partnered with Vanessa Bauer, said: “Taking part in Dancing On Ice now is the right time for me. If you spoke to Joey Essex at 23 and 24, I could have said yes to it but I probably wouldn’t have put 100% into it. I feel like doing something like this, I’m very ready for it.
“It’s probably the most competitive I’m ever going to be in any show.”
The pairs will be judged by Olympian skaters Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, Diversity dancer Ashley Banjo and former Strictly Come Dancing professional Oti Mabuse.
Dancing On Ice returns on January 15 at 6.30pm on ITV1 and ITVX.