AFTER weeks of viewers branding Dancing on Ice a 'fix', ousted contestant Rachel Stevens has given her take on the row that has dogged the show.
Speaking exclusively to The Sun, the S Club 7 singer says she believes the rampant speculation all contributes to the 'drama' around the Sunday night staple.
She tells us: " I guess all those conversations [around it being a fix] adds to the drama and fun of it all. You can't take it too seriously – at the end of the day, it's a tv show and it is what it is."
Some fans of the series have accused the judges of deliberately overmarking or undermarking some contestants.
They also claim the decision of who goes home in the skate off comes down to a 'popularity contest' rather than genuine skill.
"It's not just about ice skating, it's about making a tv show and all the structure that goes with that," Rachel reveals. "There are a lot of other elements involved, and everyone brings something different to the table beyond their skating skills. Of course we all get invested in it, but it's a bit of fun."
Earlier this week, Dancing On Ice judge Oti Mabuse caused shockwaves when she revealed she was quitting Strictly Come Dancing.
But Rachel, who came second on Strictly in 2008 and also appeared on the show's 2012 Christmas special, insists the news didn't come as a shock to her.
"I wasn't really surprised, no," she says. "Oti was on that show for years and she had the most incredible experience on it. There comes a point where you need to move on and try new things."
Looking to the future herself, Rachel, who also competed on Celebrity Masterchef in 2017, is taking some time before deciding on whether she would do another reality show.
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"I don't know what's next in terms of TV shows, but there are some exciting projects in the pipeline," she teases.
As well as recently teaming up with Nutella to design a bespoke recipe for pancake day, she is collaborating with high street store Oasis again.
"I'm desiging another range for Oasis, and I am loving it and learning so much," she reveals. "That's my biggest passion and I am really focussing on that."
Next year marks 25 years since Rachel first topped the charts as part of 90s super group S Club 7, and she's flattered by suggestions she has barely aged since her pop star days.
"I definitely have aged, for sure!" she laughs. "But I do just try and stay fit, all the obvious stuff. I don’t always achieve it but I try to eat healthily and I am all about balance.
"I am always on the go and busy, and always trying to stay positive. I think that really makes a difference."
Has she had a helping hand with a sneaky dose of cosmetic enhancements?
"I haven’t done botox or fillers, but I think it’s a great thing that that is available if you want to go down that route," she says.
"All those treatments are getting better and better all the time."
Does she worry about her daughters, Amelie, 11, and Millie, 7, being influenced by the legions of influencers and reality stars on social media with plumped pouts and surgically-enhanced faces?
"I always try and instil in my daughters though that it's so much more important what we are like as people than how we look," Rachel stresses.
"There is so much about how we look out there, and so much is thrown at kids, way more so than when I was growing up. I just want them to be happy and have a strong sense of self esteem."
Rachel Stevens is working with Nutella to celebrate Pancake Day. Visit the Nutella website for the recipe Rachel’s created, and many more – all topped with a delicious touch of Nutella! https://www.nutella.com/pancake-day-recipe
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