Wes Nel­son

From Love Is­land to Danc­ing on Ice, Wes Nel­son tells Jess O’Sul­li­van about pre- show nerves, his com­pli­cated dance moves and how his re­la­tion­ship and child­hood friends keep him grounded

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The Love Is­land star is cur­rently mak­ing waves in an­other re­al­ity show, Danc­ing on Ice. Jess O’Sul­li­van meets him

Af­ter weeks of watch­ing Wes Nel­son hang­ing out pool­side on the siz­zling set of Love Is­land last sum­mer, it was hard to imag­ine the 20-year-old en­gi­neer from Stafford­shire in Eng­land would be trad­ing in his swim­ming trunks for ice skates just a few months later. But last Sun­day Wes fully em­braced the se­quins to per­form on ITV’s Danc­ing on Ice, an ap­pear­ance that in­cluded a com­pli­cated rou­tine that no celebrity has dared to try be­fore dur­ing their first turn on the ice. “My big­gest worry was do­ing quite a dif­fi­cult throw, called the Dou­ble Sal­chow. It’s a three-point turn, and then I throw Vanessa and she does a dou­ble spin.” Clearly Wes’s en­gi­neer­ing back­ground comes in use­ful when he’s try­ing to de­con­struct these tricky moves. “It was very dif­fi­cult to get her go­ing in a straight tra­jec­tory when I throw, but we prac­ticed a lot, and we got it nailed down. But when the cam­eras are there and the lights are on, and the nerves, it could have been iffy. But we’ve re­hearsed the hell out of it and smashed it. That was the only thing about my first rou­tine that I was a bit wor­ried about.”

Wes ad­mits that be­fore the show he had barely been on an ice rink, (he did it drunk, twice, so we’re not sure that counts), but he was sin­gled out by his fel­low con­tes­tants as a hot con­tender to lift the Danc­ing on Ice tro­phy this year. Es­pe­cially im­pressed was for­mer Pussy­cat Doll, Melody Thorn­ton, who says: “Wes has a nat­u­ral abil­ity, so I’m sure he’s one to watch.” His chances are helped by his pro­fes­sional part­ner, 22-year-old Vanessa Bauer, who is the cur­rent reign­ing cham­pion. She won last sea­son with her part­ner, X-Fac­tor star Jake Quick­enden, so un­der her tute­lage there can be no doubt that Wes is in with a good chance. This has def­i­nitely added to the pres­sure for Wes who ad­mits: “It’s a lot of pres­sure. See­ing what Jake did last year, you want to top it. It’s go­ing to hap­pen though.”

Vanessa clearly be­lieves in his nat­u­ral skat­ing abil­ity, given his more ad­vanced moves so early on in the com­pe­ti­tion. This has given Wes the con­fi­dence boost to take it on. “Vanessa does all the chore­og­ra­phy, so it’s nice to know that she has faith in me in the sense that it’s a dif­fi­cult thing, and it’s not ac­tu­ally been done on the show be­fore in the first week. It’s ob­vi­ously a plea­sure to be trusted like that.”

Cheer­ing him on through re­hearsals and the live shows is girl­friend Me­gan Bar­ton Han­son, 24, who was a fel­low fi­nal­ist on this year’s Love Is­land. Clearly a bit tired at me­dia spec­u­la­tion about how real their re­la­tion­ship is, Wes says that one of his pet peeves is when peo­ple re­mark that they can’t be­lieve the cou­ple are still to­gether. “You wouldn’t say that to any other cou­ple, so it’s weird that peo­ple feel it’s okay to come up and say it to us.” They are one of three Love Is­land cou­ples still to­gether since the show ended and they are still as loved up as ever, even if Me­gan did de­scribe the skat­ing cos­tumes as “un­manly” and claimed that she found watch­ing it a bit “cringey.” She did, how­ever, say she is “so proud of all the long hours and hard work Wes is putting in”. Has she come round to the se­quins since? “Me­gan saw me on the show and she said I looked ‘cute’. She was lov­ing it re­ally and was just as ner­vous as I was.”

Wes’s ap­pear­ance in Love Is­land was a con­tro­ver­sial one, hav­ing started out dat­ing Laura An­der­son be­fore dump­ing her for his now girl­friend, but he says that re­la­tion­ships are far less dra­matic be­tween the con­tes­tants on Danc­ing on Ice. “Hon­estly, all of the skaters – and I’m not just say­ing this to be safe – are get­ting on so well. There’s no neg­a­tiv­ity among the cast. Ev­ery­one is so happy, ev­ery­one is get­ting on equally. It’s a re­ally good en­vi­ron­ment.” One com­peti­tor Wes has found him­self grav­i­tat­ing to­wards is ex-Westlifer, Brian McFad­den. “I can un­der­stand him loud and clear, loud be­ing the op­er­a­tive word. He is a very, very funny man and su­per hum­ble. He is so sup­port­ive as well as be­ing a joker, he is al­ways there for you when­ever you need to know something or you need a bit of help. If he’s done something I don’t know how to do, he’ll teach me and if he doesn’t know something I’ve done, I’ll teach him. So we’ve got a re­ally good re­la­tion­ship, me and Brian.”

De­spite mak­ing new celebrity friends, Wes is still very much in touch with and thank­ful for his child­hood friends, who have been with him for the roller­coaster ride of the last few months. We first saw his pals on an episode of After­sun, the live com­pan­ion show to Love Is­land, and view­ers were won over by Wes even more af­ter see­ing that his best pals were just a down-to-earth bunch of lads. Lads who are def­i­nitely en­joy­ing the perks of hav­ing a fa­mous friend. “When I left the show I had a lot of per­sonal ap­pear­ances lined up. Most of the guys were in uni or were off for the sum­mer so when I was do­ing all these events I could bring them around ev­ery­where. At all the clubs they could get in and drink for free, so they were lov­ing life, but it’s been nice to take them along on the jour­ney with me.” Were they sur­prised that Wes has ended up a re­al­ity TV star? “I’m a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent in that sense as I was al­ways a bit flashier, I think they were sur­prised and they weren’t at the same time. They used to wind me up all the time and say, ‘You should go on something like Love Is­land’ and then it ac­tu­ally hap­pened. I’m hop­ing to get them on [ Danc­ing on Ice], so it’ll be a group of six rowdy boys.” Whether his celebrity star con­tin­ues to rise, Wes is en­joy­ing him­self right now rather than wor­ry­ing about the fu­ture. “I don’t know what the fu­ture holds for me. Po­ten­tially back to en­gi­neer­ing. I’m not ob­sessed by fame, it doesn’t bother me. I just want to be suc­cess­ful in my ca­reer and have a healthy re­la­tion­ship.” Ei­ther way, Wes can count on his friends to keep his feet firmly on the ground. “They’re com­pletely the same as they were and I’m so grate­ful for that. Ob­vi­ously at first, they were like, ‘What the hell is go­ing on? Why is Wes on our TV?’ But not in the sense that they changed the way they are to me, and nei­ther have I changed the way I am to­wards them, and that’s the beauty of it. I’m so happy that they’ve all stayed the same. They still rip the hell out of me in the group chats. They still do all the same things that they did be­fore. It’s just that now I’m away from home a bit.”

Watch it Danc­ing on Ice, Sun­day, Vir­gin Me­dia One & UTV

Wes Nel­son with girl­friend Me­gan Bar­ton Han­son

Wes Nel­son’s Danc­ing On Ice part­ner Vanessa Bauer

Love Is­land Christ­mas Re­union

Love Is­land

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