Jason Gardiner 'stitched up' over DOI replacement

Jason Gardiner thinks he has been ''stitched up'' after being replaced on the 'Dancing On Ice' panel by eccentric 'Pineapple Dance Studios' star Louie Spence

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Jason Gardiner

Jason Gardiner

Jason Gardiner thinks he has been "stitched up" after being replaced on the 'Dancing On Ice' panel by Louie Spence.

As part of a dramatic shake-up of the ITV1 show - which is hosted by Phillip Schofield and Christine Bleakley - the famously acid-tongued judge reportedly quit after being "outraged" to learn the eccentric dancer had been allowed to audition.

He is believed to have told a friend: "I've been stitched up. They were trying to get rid of me, so I walked."

However, it has been claimed ITV1 bosses pulled the plug on Jason's involvement due to his explosive row with coach Karen Barber on last year's series, which saw him slammed for "bullying".

An insider told the Daily Mirror newspaper: "Negotiations were ongoing. They did initially try to reach agreement, but there were stumbling blocks on pay and the producers' lack of commitment to him.

"Jason was annoyed they didn't immediately give him their backing for another series, after courting possible replacements, so he pulled the plug. He didn't need the grief."

Meanwhile, former Spice Girls singer Emma Bunton will also be replaced by German figure skating world champion Katarina Witt, leaving ex-Olympian Robin Cousins as the only original judge on the panel.

The source added: "There have been criticisms that Jason had got too harsh, with many viewers questioning whether he was qualified to criticise ice skating, but nobody will be able to say that about Katarina.

"She is an international superstar in the skating world, and the producers have approached her several times over the years so it's great to finally get her.

"Viewers don't mind fair criticism, but there is a real feeling that last year things went too far. It's likely to leave Jason feeling a bit red-faced after what he said to Karen last year."

Layla Smith, ITV's entertainment boss, said: "We are thrilled to welcome Louie and Katarina.

"The pair have a wealth of experience which they will be bringing to the series. Their flare and passion for their professions will make for some interesting debates. We'd like to thank Emma and Jason for their valued contribution and wish them all the best."

Coaches Karen Barber, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean all remain.

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