Ask DJ and soon-to-be Dancing on Ice contestant Adele Roberts to sum up 2023, and her reply is perhaps a little surprising. “The best year of my life,” the 44-year-old tells HELLO!, in her first interview since it was revealed she would be taking part in the popular ITV show, paired with experienced professional skater Mark Hanretty.
“It’s the year that I’ve become most connected to myself, most appreciative of life and one where I can’t wait for the future – and I never used to feel like that,” says the former BBC Radio 1 presenter, who continues her recovery from treatment for bowel cancer, with which she was diagnosed in October 2021.
“I spent so many years trapped in this cycle of hatred for my body. But it’s like, with the cancer came a release. I think of it now as symbolic of the sadness I used to feel; it was a shackle on me and once it was cut out of me, I was free. Now I’m able to see my body for what it is – beautiful and amazing.”
So why, after everything her body has endured already, did Adele say yes to Dancing On Ice? “My family and Kate asked the same,” she replies with a hearty laugh – Kate being Adele’s girlfriend of almost 20 years, actress and artist Kate Holderness. “They said: ‘You can’t skate, you can’t dance, is this really the show for you?’. It’s definitely easier – and safer – enjoying it from your sofa.”
Now Adele is gearing up to become the first person living with a stoma (an opening in the abdomen that allows waste to pass safely from the body into a bag) to take part in Dancing on Ice. “When I first got my stoma, there was a lot of focus on what I couldn’t do and I wanted to flip that on its head and be like: ‘No, actually, there’s so much I can do,’” she says.
Adele was “over the moon” to be paired with professional skater Mark, who’s been part of the team for 11 years.
“I knew he’d be able to protect me in terms of my body, that he’d be mindful of my stoma and adapt the way we work. I think he was a bit frightened at first, because he didn’t want to hurt me, but that didn’t last. He’s such a beautiful, graceful dancer and I wanted him to help me learn that.”
At what most would assume was the most vulnerable time in her life, Adele has never felt stronger. “It’s like having cancer ignited something in me that has made me become the person I always should have been,” she says. “My attitude now is, it can do what it does to my body, but I won’t let it diminish me as a person.”
This rebellion has been further fuelled by the gratitude she’s had from fellow ostomates – as those living with stomas often refer to themselves – and others fighting cancer, who have thanked her for sharing her story so candidly. “I totally respect that not everybody would want to be as open as I am, but I am privileged to work in the media and therefore have a platform, and that kind of makes me feel I have a purpose.
“Without Audrey, I wouldn’t be alive – that was a big smack around the chops for me when that sank in. Stomas are a sign you’ve been through a tough time and come out the other side; they’re nothing to be ashamed of and if I can change attitudes, even just a little bit, I’ll feel proud. That’s why I felt so passionate about doing Dancing on Ice.”
Sitting rink-side when she steps out onto the ice for the first show in January will be Kate, her “rock”, with whom Adele celebrates 20 years together next February. “With Kate by my side I know I can achieve anything I set my mind to,” says Adele, who is now cancer-free. “She’s my greatest supporter; she’s my everything. Not everyone finds a love like that. I feel incredibly lucky.”
CREDIT: Dancing on Ice 2024 is on ITV and ITVX in January