EXCLUSIVE: Torvill and Dean’s last dance

After 50 years, the ice rink icons are hanging up their skates...

On February 14, 1984, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean glided into global consciousness after a gold medal-winning performance to Ravel’s Boléro at the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. They would receive sixes across the board – a feat never achieved before or since – with the classic tune itself even becoming a top 10 hit in the aftermath.

Now, 40 years since that historic win and 50 since they first started skating together, the icons are preparing to say goodbye with a final tour – and they’re coming Down Under to finish it off in 2025.

It’s important to the pair – who met as teenagers at their local rink in the UK’s Nottingham – to return to our shores. Australia, they tell The Weekly, was instrumental in their success post Games and as such retains a special place in their hearts.

“Australia was the first place we ever professionally skated,” Christopher says as we chat over Zoom ahead of their arrival.

“We came to do two weeks of touring and they kept saying, ‘Will you stay a bit longer?’ And then that tour became three months long all-around Australia. And later we spent another year down in Australia. So, it’s like a second home.”

Skating superstar Christopher Dean is set to make a comeback with ice dance partner Jayne Torvill just three months after cheating death in a car crash. Dean who now limps is working out daily Australia. The couple are returning to Britain this month to rehearse for a north American tour. 12th March 1989. (Photo by Staff/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
The duo in Australia in 1989. Photo by Staff/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

In 1984, Olympic athletes needed to be classed as amateurs. They weren’t allowed to be paid for their sporting success, no matter how many medals they won. While the pair had resigned from their day jobs in 1980 after their first Winter Olympics (Jayne was working as an insurance clerk, Christopher had joined the police force) they were relying on the kindness of the Nottingham City Council, who stepped in to provide a grant, to pay their bills.

But once that incredible performance cemented their names into hearts around the world, the duo knew they needed to look after their financial future. Enter Michael Edgley.

Ahead of the Winter Games, his Edgley Group had contracted the Russian team to come Down Under for a tour. Like many, Michael had assumed they’d sweep the board. But when the Aussie promoter watched that winning Bolero performance, he was straight on the phone to secure the popular favourites.

“It was a real juxtaposition because we found ourselves headlining their tour when we’d been competing against the Russian Olympic team all our skating career,” Christopher says.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh meet Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean in Nottingham. 20th April 1984. (Photo by Dick Williams/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)
Ahead of their departure to the Winter Games, the pair met Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in Nottingham on 20th April 1984. (Photo by Dick Williams/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)

And while they’d been given the full tickertape parade treatment in their native UK post-Games, their triumphant arrival at Sydney airport caught both by surprise.

“We felt like the Beatles, didn’t we,” Jayne laughs. “We had helicopters following our car down the road to try and get shots of us.”

“It was mad,” Christopher agrees. “In the car, the radio was on and there was commentary saying, ‘Oh, they’re just on the freeway and heading into the city now.’ When tickets went up for sale, we were told, the lines were going around the Sydney Entertainment Centre.”

And everyone, of course, was wanting them to perform Bolero again. The routine would revolutionise the way skaters approached performance and audiences couldn’t get enough of the beautiful dance which – fittingly – had won the gold on Valentine’s Day.

“We call it Bolero Day,” Christopher says. “We always call each other on that day.”

Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean finish a routine during an exhibition at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, Sydney, Australia. Photo Tim Clayton (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean finish a routine during an exhibition at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, Sydney, Australia in 1984. Photo Tim Clayton (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

There’s been much speculation over the years about the nature of their relationship. How, people question, could they display so much passion on the ice and never have crossed into the romantic?

At 15, when they were first fatefully paired together their instructor had pushed them close together, instructing them to gaze into each other’s eyes. It was an awkward moment, they recall, but was one which became the key to their success together – little wonder they would become best friends.

“Over time, you gain this trust with each other,” Jayne says. “You don’t even have to speak sometimes. It’s just a movement of the eyes, particularly if you’re in the middle of a performance and one of you has a problem. The other one can pick that up and help. We’re a mini team, we don’t want to let the other one down.”

“People on the outside find it difficult to see how the friendship works,” Christopher adds, because it’s a working friendship as well and those two go hand in hand. Both of our partners have learned to understand what we need to do. I’ve had past relationships that don’t.”

“Having this strong friendship you’ve always got someone there for you,” Jayne adds. “Someone who respects you. We’ve both had this discipline and strong work ethic over the years, but we’ve also had our friendship. If either of us need help outside of the skating, we’re always happy to be there for the other.”

Christopher Dean and Jayne Torvill now. Photo: Alfie Hitchcock.
Christopher Dean and Jayne Torvill today. Photo: Alfie Hitchcock.

Where to buy tickets to Torvill & Dean: Our Last Dance

It’s a bittersweet feeling to perform this final tour, they say, but the 50-year mark felt like the right time. They wanted to do it in while they were still physically able and to go out knowing they’d nailed those routines. The tour, they say, will be a look back at their lives and career. They will be revealing snippets of their time that maybe weren’t public knowledge as well as bringing along some special guests to take to the ice. The last time they were in Australia to perform was 1994 and they hope they’ll please audiences who came to see them as much today as they did 30 years ago.

“Let’s go out with a bang,” Jayne says with delight.

Tickets are now on sale for Torvill & Dean: Our Last Dance. To find performance times and purchase, head to Ticketek.

Related stories