WITH a dislocated shoulder fractured in three places, most people would struggle to get out of bed.
Denise Van Outen put on her skates and went to compete in front of millions of viewers on ITV’s Dancing On Ice.
The self-confessed “tough old Essex bird” performed through the pain — but was eventually forced to pull out of the show this week after doctors warned she would end up with a body full of metal pins.
The 46-year-old suffered the injury in a horror fall just days before the second episode — and first live show — on Sunday night.
Initially it was thought she had dislocated her shoulder and damaged the tendons.
It was only after she bravely took to the ice with dance partner Matt Evers — with her arm propped in a sequined sling — that the full extent of her injury became clear.
In an exclusive interview, Denise told The Sun: “I just wanted to get on with the show.
“I know my body and I’ve had previous injuries and it just never felt quite right.
“We had to completely re-choreograph our entire routine, which took out all my big lifts that I’d been working on for three months.
“I had a nice big move almost like the splits on the ice, which was my ultimate goal.
‘I CAME OFF AFTER AND JUST VOMITED’
“But I couldn’t do any of it. I was literally clinging on to Matt for dear life just to get through the show.
“But I think if you look at any of the pictures, you can see that I was in terrible pain.
“I come from a world of the arts and theatre, and it’s been shut for so long that I sort of felt a bit of a duty to fly the flag for performers because most of my friends are just not working. They’ve not worked for nearly a year.
“I’m a tough old Essex bird. We’re very much, ‘The show must go on!’.
“So I just thought I’ve got to get up there and do my thing. Not just for me but for all the showbiz luvvies out there. That got me through it.”
Of her injury she added: “I can’t rotate my arm or move it too much. I’m very limited with movement, and there was only ever going to be so much I could do on the ice.
“With an injury like this it is too dangerous to go back on. I didn’t want to end up on a surgeon’s table with pins.
“I obviously didn’t know at the time that it was fractured as well, but now it all makes sense because of the level of pain.
“I came off after that show and vomited, and I nearly passed out because I was in so much pain.
“At the same time it was still good to be part of it. It’s just such a shame. I would love to have carried on. I’ll never ever know what I’d be capable of doing.”
Denise even got through the excruciating pain without taking any heavy-duty medication.
She said: “I did that show on paracetamol.
“If I’d taken a strong painkiller they would consider you intoxicated.
“I wouldn’t have a whisky and go on the ice, so I couldn’t take a painkiller. It made me realise I was made of tough stuff.”
Denise’s exit from the competition just two shows in means dance partner Matt, 44, has spent the best part of six months away from his family in the United States for just a fortnight of action.
To fit with Covid bubble restrictions, Matt — who did not go home after last year’s series either — moved in with Denise, partner Eddie Boxshall, 46, a commodities trader, and daughter Betsy, ten, for the duration of the training and show.
She said: “He’s waited to do the show all year. He’s American and he hasn’t gone home or seen his family and friends for a year.
“And then obviously I’m out, and that takes him out of the competition.
“I feel more for him because he’s become a really close friend.
“He’s still with us. It’s Eddie’s birthday next week so we’re planning to keep the bubble and keep seeing each other.
“Hopefully, when the rinks open again, I would love to be able to get back on the ice, because we never even got to do a skate-off or anything.
“Even for my own confidence, because I’m a little bit like if you fall off the horse you get back on. So I don’t just want to leave my ice skating there.
“I’m never going to be a professional, don’t get me wrong. But I would like to just be able to get back on the ice and lose that fear.”
In December, BBC bosses at rival show Strictly allowed boxer Nicola Adams and pro partner Katya Jones to return for the final after they had been forced to pull out after Katya caught coronavirus.
Could that be an option for Denise? She said: “I would love to. I think we all get invited back for the final.
“So maybe, just maybe, I might get to do the amazing lift I’ve been working on.”
And having skated just once, surely bosses can also invite her back next year — again, like Strictly did with Made In Chelsea star Jamie Laing, who broke his foot before the first show in 2019.
Denise said: “I don’t know. That’s a call for ITV.
“I’ve never had any previous skating experience, so it’s whether you’d have to weigh up whether I would have an unfair advantage next time.
“There are some who have skated previously who are on this year, whereas I started from scratch. That’s a call for ITV to make.”
To take Denise’s place and make up the numbers, ITV called on reserve celebrity Amy Tinkler, 21, a former Olympic gymnast.
And as The Sun told yesterday, Denise — who finished bottom of the leaderboard after her battling, injury-ridden performance — is tipping her for greatness.
She said: “She’s really good. I’ve seen her in training. Obviously we trained socially distanced but you can keep your eye on other people.
“She’s really good. And I actually think she’s going to come in now and ruffle a few feathers. I think that leaderboard is going to start changing.”
Denise’s list of injuries seem to be getting longer with each of her gigs.
She dislocated a rib on Strictly in 2012. And a fractured foot in 2018 forced her to postpone a return as Roxie Hart in West End musical Chicago 17 years after she first played the role. Dare I ask what’s coming next?
The celebrity Gogglebox regular added with a laugh: “I’m so relieved because we just found out Gogglebox is coming back.
“I said to Eddie, ‘At least we’ll just be sat on a sofa! I’m a bit safer there’.
“But I’ll probably fall off that.”
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