HE rose to fame dancing to Happy Mondays – but was terrified of falling face down on his maracas while trying to move in Dancing on Ice.
In training, nineties symbol Having proven so accident-prone, he will become the first contestant to wear a HELMET in his debut Sunday night.
But Bez is making the most of the situation with a helmet decorated like a melon – a reference to the Happy Mondays lyrics: “You’re twistin’ my melon, man.” That comes from their most popular track, Step On, which Bez will perform.
Dancer and 2005 Celebrity Big Brother winner, 57, admitted he was “completely a piece of trash” on the ice.
He said: “I feel the same way a. . . but I know why they want me to wear it. I’ve fallen like that many times and hit my head on the ice, that wouldn’t happen on live TV with my head all over the phone.
“Nearly every time I’m on the ice, my head gets hit – in side-impact, back-flash, forward-collision. And every time I hit my head on the ice, you know what I mean, I think they’re a bit scared that I might hurt myself.”
Bez spent weeks training with her skating partner Angela Egan, is 34 years old and has been doing his best to prove he can make it through the ice when the show returns this weekend.
But after some nasty somersaults – including one hit with so heavy ice that his helmet flew off – he must try to make the best of the bad situation.
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‘Better than blood and gore everywhere’
Bez, whose real name is Mark Berry, said: ‘I was hoping I was good enough not to wear a helmet. But they gave me a melon helmet to wear. It would be pretty funny to see me skating with that one.
“Better than a squashed watermelon, blood splattered everywhere. I don’t think that’s going to go well on live TV. I don’t want to give away too much but there’s definitely going to be some maracas involved somewhere. I’m pulling out all the big guns on my first dance.
“I had some spectacular falls. I wear every pad you can imagine. I have helmet, elbow pads, knee pads, wrist guards on. I even got a new pad for the bottom of my back. But I’m still looking for a new place to drop where I don’t have a pad yet.”
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So far, Bez has been lucky to avoid a major injury. But he adds: “I’m having a double groin strain right now, working on a new move. But I have a Brazilian beggar coming! Now it’s getting really nice – a curvy beggar I’ve never had before. I hit my knee pretty hard. I have a bruise on my elbow. ”
Although a novice on ice, Bez knows reality TV inside and out. He appeared on Celebrity Big Brother mainly to pay the tax bills and followed that up starring in Adrenaline Junkie, Bargain Hunt and last year Celebrity MasterChef.
Despite her enduring popularity, this time Bez is looking to move beyond the comedic role of the public. “I’m trying not to be – but oh, I’m the Frank Spencer of the show,” he said. I don’t know if you remember when he went to the roller skating rink (in Some Mothers Do ‘Ave’ Em)?
I hope – this is my biggest wish – that I can stand for a minute and 30 seconds and get my job done.
“I am definitely the Frank Spencer of the moment. I try not to, though. Yesterday I feel that I have really made some great strides and improved a lot. But it’s really different to learn a new skill – and especially one that I didn’t do as a kid, so it’s completely new to me.
“I found it a lot harder than I thought. I hope – this is my biggest wish – that I can stand for a minute and 30 seconds and get my job done. Right now, I haven’t managed it without falling, so that’s my main motivation. ”
Bez’s friend and Happy Mondays leader Shaun Ryder will premiere tomorrow at the studio in Hertfordshire. Rowetta Idah, their old bandmate, planned to join but had to stay home with Covid. Shaun helped create Happy Mondays in 1980 in Salford, Gtr Manchester.
Bez joined as a dancer and percussionist, then collaborated with Shaun again for his next band, Black Grape. They remain great friends throughout.
Bez said of her partner: “He was so biased. He always said, ‘Bez, you have to win it’. He’s really funny, Shaun. He is very supportive.
“And he was always convinced that I was going to win, for some crazy reason. The melon helmet will bring a bright smile to his face. And Rowetta is also really supportive. I’m really excited to join, for the chance to have real fun and make some money at the same time. It’s not every day you get that opportunity.”
Topping the bill this year are some experienced dancers: Serious former professional Brendan Cole; Pussycat Dolls star Kimberly Wyatt; and Regan Gascoigne, son of the English hero Paul.
‘We laughed a lot’
Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield return as hosts along with judges Jayne Torvill, Christopher Dean, Ashley Banjo and rookie Oti Mabuse, of the famous team.
She replaces John Barrowman, who was attacked amid allegations that he was in frequent contact with the actors while working on the set of Doctor Who. “I’ve met most people before, but we don’t really have a lot of time to hang out together,” Bez said. But people are really having fun. Brendan always jokes when you see him.
“Kye is great, he is a great athlete. Stef is great too. With the disability she has, to be able to do what she does – it just takes me away. And of course I’m close with Sally. I love Sally. ”
But Bez added: “Due to Covid restrictions, there’s really nothing going on behind the scenes. We’re not allowed to mix or see much of each other, so you’re spending a lot of time on your own. So there’s no drama behind the scenes – which is sad – but I can see why. They must ensure that the program will continue. It makes a lot of sense behind the scenes. “
“Reasonable” isn’t a word commonly associated with Bez, who was known for partying in the ’90s and talked openly about his drug use. So does gliding on ice remind him of a hallucinatory ride?
Bez said: “I can’t even compare! I really dreamed a lot. One of my dreams is to glide on the ice really gracefully, on one foot, in reverse. Angela is very patient with me. We laughed a lot during training, mostly because of my mishaps.
“And she’s also a Northerner, so we know each other very well. She went to a gig on Monday with (Manchester country band) James last year, she went to a concert. We had a night out in Manchester for a meal, so we had a really great competition and became really good friends.”
I really dreamed a lot. One of my dreams is to glide on the ice really gracefully, on one foot, in reverse. Angela is very patient with me.
At 57 years old, Bez is one of the oldest celebrities to skate on ITV’s star-studded rink. And he’s realistic about the prospect of reaching the final. He said: “Unfortunately, I didn’t have high expectations, because I was a piece of trash. But hopefully I can survive to the point where I don’t have to wear a helmet. That would be a good moment for me.
“It was really hard to learn that skill at 57, but it’s come to a point now that I wish I could stop falling. I wish I could say, ‘Yeah, you’ll see me do the header’. But I can’t tell you what kind of trash I am.
“I’m a complete piece of ice skating trash, you know, but the main thing is I hope to spread a little happiness and put a smile on people’s faces.”
https://www.thesun.ie/tv/8202246/dancing-on-ice-bez-melon-helmet/ I’ll put on a melon helmet and skate to Step On, Dancing on Ice and Happy Mondays star, says Bez