Who is Christopher Dean's partner? Inside his relationship with Karen Barber

The couple have been together since 2011

While many fans muse whether Christopher Dean and his skating partner Jayne Torvill are or have ever been an item, Christopher is actually in a long-term relationship with Karen Barber. The couple started dating in 2011 after growing close on Dancing on Ice, although they had been friends for decades before. Let's take a look at their relationship…

Christopher Dean and Karen Barber

Karen, 58, was married to skating coach Stephen Pickavance when romance blossomed between her and Christopher. The pair's relationship came to light when they were caught kissing outside a restaurant in London in January 2011; a few days later, Karen confirmed that she and Stephen had ended their 21-year marriage some time before. The exes remained on good terms for their teenage daughters Emma and Laura.

Christopher Dean and Karen Barber have been dating since 2011

Karen and Olympic gold medallist Christopher, 61, released a joint statement, explaining: "We have been great friends for more than 30 years. Following recent media speculation, we feel the necessity to confirm that this year has seen a change in our relationship, but we are taking things very slowly, as it is early days. We'd very much like to thank our dear friends, who have been so incredibly supportive to us. We both have families with children, so we ask the media to please respect their privacy."

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Christopher had also split from his second wife, American figure skater Jill Trenary, and mother of his sons Jack and Sam, less than a year before, in March 2010. The couple had married in October 1994. Christopher was married to his first wife, French-Canadian world ice dance champion Isabelle Duchesnay, from 1991 to 1993.

Christopher and his long-term love Karen continue to work together on Dancing on Ice. While Karen works as a head coach, her boyfriend Christopher sits on the judging panel.

Iconic skating duo Torvill and Dean pictured in 2018

Christopher Dean and Jayne Torvill

Known to fans as iconic skating couple Torvill and Dean, Jane and Christopher have skated together since the seventies and now sit on the Dancing on Ice judging panel. They won gold at the 1984 Winter Olympics followed by bronze at the 1994 Winter Olympics. ITV even created a drama Torvill & Dean, which was released in 2018, focusing on their early years as a popular skating duo and their rise to fame. In 2013, Jayne admitted that the pair did "dabble" in romance as teenagers. "We were in the back of the bus going to a league match, and it just happened. It was a one-off. We never talked about it afterwards. We laugh about it now," she told Radio Times.

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Christopher Dean and the Dancing on Ice curse

The 2019 series of Dancing on Ice kicked off with some drama following the news that Love Island couple Wes Nelson and Megan Barton Hanson had split. Speaking to HELLO! in January last year, Christopher admitted that he can see why the Dancing on Ice 'curse' is real, when contestants end up in relationships with one another. Christopher explained: "We've had so many babies on Dancing on Ice... people who have worked on it. We're a family. And I think, you know, when you're working together like that it's very tactile, and when you're on the outside of it, it can look different from what's actually happening on the inside."

Jason Gardiner and Karen Barber previously feuded on Dancing on Ice

Karen Barber and Dancing on Ice

Karen was one of the original judges on Dancing on Ice when it launched in 2006. She kept her role until 2011 when she changed to become head coach for a couple of years, before returning to the judging panel. She left the show in 2014 and returned in 2019 as head coach. In 2011, Karen and judge Jason Gardiner had a particularly nasty moment on air when Jason told her: "If your opinion mattered you'd still be on the judging panel." The remark left Karen in tears, while presenter Holly Willoughby had to step in to intervene. The mother-of-two skated professionally with her partner Nicky Slater, with the pair winning bronze at the 1983 European Championships. They also represented Great Britain at two Winter Olympics.

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