Dancing On Ice's Jason Gardiner says being on TV was 'toxic'

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Jason Gardiner has moved to Portugal to live off the land. (Getty Images)
Jason Gardiner has moved to Portugal to live off the land. (Getty Images)

Former Dancing On Ice star Jason Gardiner has opened up about his time on the hit ITV competition show and why he ditched the glitz to work the land. 

The former judge, who quit the show back in 2019 and was replaced by John Barrowman, called his time on TV "toxic". 

The Australian choreographer has turned his life around completely in the last few years and now lives in Portugal and works on restoring nature’s balance.

Read more: Jason Gardiner says Dancing On Ice has 'lost the fun'

Reflecting on his time on the show in an interview with the Irish Daily Mirror, he said: “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.

“Then I would wake up at 6am, do my yoga outside, go for a walk and that’s when I realised I’m living an amazing experience right here. Slowly but surely I began to realise I was so much better because I wasn’t stressed.”

Gardiner also explained how his current journey started with a friendly neighbour and her allotment.

At the start of the pandemic, Gardiner found himself at an all-time low as the pandemic took quite a hit on the career he had spent over 30 years building and on his mental health. 

He had spent four years writing his solo show, which debuted in London to rave reviews. But due to the pandemic, the tour he had booked for 2020 got cancelled.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 27:  Jason Gardiner attends the press night after party for
Jason Gardiner attends the press night after party for Ruthless! The Musical in 2018. (David M Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)

Gardiner – who is turning 50 next month – said the lack of help from the government to performers like him meant he had no option but to close his business and let go of his staff, which he said was "devastating". 

Finding himself with no income, he took a hard look at his finances, which forced him to evaluate a lot of things and made him realise how "wasteful" he had been. 

Not being able to work also took a mental toll – he had been working since he was 16 and found having to be home doing nothing "a real hard thing" to accept.

That's until his neighbour Jennifer came to him and asked him how he was feeling, allowing him to open up about his feelings. 

Jennifer suggested he could do with some time outdoors and suggested he join her working on her allotment. 

LONDON, -, UNITED KINGDOM - 2018/12/18: Jason Gardiner, Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield at the Dancing On Ice Launch Showcase at the Natural History Museum Ice Rink, Kensington,. (Photo by Keith Mayhew/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Jason Gardiner, Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield at the Dancing On Ice Launch Showcase in 2018. (Keith Mayhew/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

While Gardiner is not sure why he jumped at the opportunity, he admitted that "something happened" when she took him there and he got the excitement back in his life. 

Read more: Jason Gardiner brands Dancing On Ice's Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield 'fake'

He subsequently spent three months living in a tent while building eco-houses for refugees, as well as learning everything he could about an approach to land management that works with nature rather than abusing it.

Now he is teaching holistic permaculture philosophies to landowners across Portugal and instructing a community of young people how to sustainably live off the land.

Watch: Jason Gardiner is branded as 'vicious' for his Dancing On Ice criticism

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