Knowing me, knowing you: Christopher Dean and Jayne Torvill

A relationship under the microscope

Christopher Dean is an ice skater who won gold at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo with his partner, Jayne Torvill. He has married twice and has two children. He lives in America and appears on ITV's Dancing On Ice with Torvill.


We first met when I was 10 and she was 11. It was 1968 and we went to the same skating rink in Nottingham. We knew each other from going on long bus journeys around the country to compete with other clubs but we didn't start skating together until four years later.

When we started skating together, I was a police cadet, going on to become a policeman, and Jayne was an insurance clerk so we had to juggle jobs with skating. It was hard. Come '81 our game plan was to aim towards '84 as our big year, but that year we ended up winning the World Championships. That meant the only way for us to go from there was down and we had to maintain our winning streak so we became even more creative and continually reinvented ourselves.

Something worked, because we won the Olympic gold in '84 on Valentine's Day. We carried on skating professionally together until '98. We were married to others and thinking of having children and I was moving to America, so we decided to call it a day.

Then a few years ago ITV approached us with Dancing on Ice. It was good to see we still had our rapport. We sort of made a pact way back not to get romantically involved; you see so many partnerships break up when issues get in the way. We kept it a friends-and-business relationship, probably the secret to our partnership.


Jayne Torvill's 1984 Olympic gold-winning performance with Dean received the highest possible score and is the only time that an all-perfect score has been achieved. She lives in East Sussex with her husband and two children.

I remember noticing him at the rink because he had very, very blond hair; my nickname for him was "the blond prince". We knew each other for about four years before we started skating together. We had both had previous skating partners but found ourselves without so Chris's coach decided to put us together.

We weren't sure how long it would last at the time, it wasn't a permanent thing, so it's funny that we still work together now. We certainly didn't expect that we would still be working together at this stage.

After we retired we both went off to have families. Chris moved to America but now with Dancing On Ice we're spending pretty much six months of the year together.

We've been really enjoying the chance to still go out there and perform. It can be strange to be so linked to someone; people say "Torvill and Dean" as if they're talking about one thing, not two people. I'd find it tough doing a sport if it was just me; Chris and I support each other. People often assume we're a married couple, especially the newer fans that we've gained over the last few years with Dancing On Ice. Of course, we always say the reason that we're still working together is because we never did get married.

Torvill & Dean's Dancing on Ice: The Live Tour 2011 DVD is out on 14 November

Interview by Gillian Orr

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
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