Let’s hear it for Yorkshire men. They are made of sterner stuff than most, as 31-year-old Emmerdale actor Matthew Wolfenden proved this week.
Matthew, who hails from Calderdale, is one of the stars of ITV’s popular Dancing On Ice, and a favourite to win the celebrity talent show.
However he almost didn’t make Sunday’s show after hurting his back in rehearsals. He was unable to get on the ice and practise with his professional ice skating partner, Russian Nina Ulanova, for several days because of a trapped nerve. “It’s not great to be honest, it’s very stiff and sore. I’m taking painkillers, stink of Deep Heat and am seeing a physio,” he told his friends on Twitter.
But he was determined not to let his fans down and said “I will be skating Sunday even if I have to put the skates on my hands and do it upside down.”
Not only did he skate the right way up to the sound of The Look Of Love, he managed to score 23 out of 30 and finish in second position with the judges. Judge Louie Spence told him: “It doesn’t take a lot to love you, Matthew. Your performance was consistent and fluid. It was a pleasure to watch. I’m loving you.” Judge Robin Cousins agreed, saying Matthew was focused and strong and gave 100-per-cent and technically did more than any other skater on the show.
Matthew said afterwards he had been really nervous and had made a few mistakes and didn’t think he deserved such a high score. He also admitted that being a favourite put extra pressure on him.
His partner, Emmerdale co-star Charley Webb, 23, was in the audience with other Emmerdale celebrities. The couple, who live in Sowerby Bridge, met on the Emmerdale set five years ago and have a two-year-old son, Buster. They got engaged on Christmas Day 2008.
Matthew, who plays David Metcalfe in the soap, is a true romantic and says he always wanted to marry Charley and having Buster is the best thing that has happened to him. He would like more children.
What his fans might not realise is that it’s down to his bad back that he became an actor. He’s a former gymnast and was a member of the British gymnastics squad until he fell whilst practising on the rings and damaged his back. He had to give up gymnastics and turned to acting instead.
I have to say his gymnastic training really shows on the ice. He’s poised and fearless and really does dance beautifully and deserves to win, but he needs the whole of Calderdale to get behind him and vote. What I like about Matthew is he’s stayed true to his roots. Not only does he still live locally and stay in touch with friends from his schooldays, but he supports local businesses as well, and often tweets about where he has been.
His favourite restaurant is Kiplings in Sowerby Bridge and he’s a regular there with Charley, Buster, and other members of his family. “It’s the best curry house in Yorkshire,” he says.
He’s struck up a close friendship with Chico, one of the other celebrity contestants on Dancing On Ice and says in a tweet: “Chico, you’re the man. I love working and being around such a positive, loving person. You are a pleasure to know.” So while he might be fearless and tough, he’s also got a soft interior. Even more reason to vote for him, in my book.
Dancing On Ice goes out on a Sunday evening and has been getting rave reviews. It’s got tension, tears and plenty of laughs, thanks to the divine Louie Spence. Get voting ...