Jason Gardiner was known for being Dancing on Ice’s ‘tough’ judge but his time on the show was marred with plenty of controversies and plenty of drama and now, his life is completely unrecognisable
ITV’s hit series Dancing On Ice skated onto our screens back in 2006, joining figure skating pros with the a series of inexperienced celebrities.
While the show focuses on their elegant routines and performances on the ice, the skating competition has made headlines for various other controversies, many of which hail from “Mr Nasty” judge Jason Gardiner.
Dubbed the Simon Cowell of the judging panel, his harsh words and cutthroat demeanour led to several explosive moments on the show and caused a series feuds between Jason and the celebrity contestants.
As we welcome a new series to our screens, let’s take a look back at the controversial former judge’s most explosive moments.
Karen Barber rift
Often compared to a pantomime villain, one of Jason’s most epic feuds was when he entered into an explosive rift with former panelist, Karen Barber.
Jason famously humiliated Karen live on air with a jibe at her reduced role on the show.
Host Holly Willoughby was forced to step in after Jason told Karen: “If your opinion still mattered you’d still be on the panel.”
The pair appear to have put the clash in the past, and Jason admitted the moment he humiliated emotional Karen live on air haunts him like a “bad nightmare”
Speaking on Loose Women, Jason said: “It’s tough isn’t it. I feel it somehow has defined me unfairly.
“All I can say is it’s a bad day at the office. Unfortunately it was in front of millions of people on live television so it will always come up like a bad nightmare. It reoccurs and reoccurs.”
Jason insisted it was just a “heat of the moment” comment as he tried to excuse his antics.
He said: “We often don’t say our best things when were angry and annoyed. When someone has goaded us we explode.”
Jason claimed they had kissed and made up and that old wounds would not resurface.
Lauren Goodger ‘walrus’ dig
TOWIE star Lauren Goodger was left horrified when Jason branded her a “walrus on ice” after her performance with professional skater Michael Zenezini.
He gave her three points out 10 and scathingly said she had “all the sensuality of a walrus on ice” in a humiliating live episode.
Lauren later revealed she had been pregnant with her ex Jake McLean’s baby at the time, but later miscarried.
After special episode Dancing on Ice: The Greatest Show On Ice aired highlights from the whole series, Jake Quickenden shared his disappointment at not being featured, despite winning his season.
He said: “Gutted watching Dancing On Ice tonight, had so many amazing memories and unfortunately didn’t get to see any!!…
“I guess they have loads of footage to fit in to 2 hours!!! Always have the amazing memories though! Good to watch tonight, been some incredible skaters’.
Lauren responded: “‘Same as me I was hoping would show my year of me… and my training and performances!!…
“Def needed a dif partner would of been funny to show my [tears] and nerves lol but also a good performance and how vile the judges were – no need back then!”
Phillip Schofield tension
Jason previously admitted there had been a lot of backstage tension between him and Phillip during their time working together between 2005 and 2019.
He told The Sun: “I’ve had my issues with Phillip over the years, and I’ve always settled my grievances with him man to man. That’s how I deal with things — directly.
“We’ve shaken hands and those problems have been overcome. He is a brilliant presenter and very professional. But I also know he is not somebody I would have a close personal friendship with.”
He also shared his upset after not hearing anything from Phillip or Holly following his sudden exit, saying: “It is hurtful, especially because when Phillip was getting a lot of negative attention recently I sent him a message of support.
“I thought they would get in touch but I’ve learned this industry is full of fake and disingenuous people.”
Gemma Collins row
Towie fans rejoiced when hothead Gemma Collins signed up for the eleventh series of the show back in 2019.
But what started as a dream, turned into a nightmare for the star as rumours swirled surrounding her behaviour off set, thanks to comments made by judge Jason Gardiner.
The drama between Jason and Gemma saw them at each other’s throats during the critiquing as Jason offered up scolding criticism of her underwhelming routine to Diamond’s Are A Girl’s Best Friend.
It eventually reached boiling point when the TOWIE star, 41, accused the judge of ‘selling stories’ about her and her apparent poor work ethic.
When Jason tried to fight back, she completely dismissed the judge as she loudly exclaimed: “Boring … Next,” starting a shouting match which left the hosts, Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, forced to step in.
The Australian choreographer, 49, sensationally quit the series in 2019 following his spat with Gemma Collins after dubbing the show a “toxic environment.” He revealed: “I have found a new life that isn’t about the toxic environment of the TV industry.
“My tenure on Dancing On Ice was always marred with controversy and lots of issues but the problem is, I didn’t realise how toxic it was until I left.
“It took me a while to decompress from it, I’ll be honest,” he told Belfast Live.
Whilst his Dancing on Ice days are behind him, fans have still asked him where he is this season, with one of his responses reading: “Since my departure, I no longer have any interest in Dancing on Ice as it’s become a dead horse which I can hear them flogging all the way from Portugal.”
He added that he really struggled with his mental health during lockdown and after deciding to sell all his belongings and move abroad, he actually went to Portugal.
He has since had a radical career change after quitting showbiz to pursue a career as a ‘Nomadic Permaculture Designer’.
In October 2021, it was reported that he had turned his attention to building sustainable housing for refugees and was actually living in a tent.
He’s been working on multiple projects such as teaching a community how to live off the land sustainably in Pavia in Alentejo and starting a kitchen garden.