DANCING on Ice star Mark Hanretty has hailed the dedication of his celebrity partner Saira Khan after they were voted off the show at the weekend.

The Erskine professional, who has been a regular on the hit ITV production over the years, admitted Loose Women star Saira was one of the least natural skaters he had ever been paired with – but he couldn’t fault her determination.

This weekend was ‘fairytale week’ on the ice but, sadly, it was not a happy ending for Mark and Saira, as ex-cricketer Ryan Sidebottom and his partner Brandee Malto progressed in the skate-off.

Mark, 33, said Saira, who first found fame as a contestant on BBC reality show The Apprentice, had given the competition everything she had and felt it was the right time for them to go.

“Saira went out on a high and I think it was the perfect time for us to exit,” he told The Gazette.

“The pressure and the difficulty was only going to increase from this point, so I think it was perfect timing for her.

“She is definitely the least natural partner I’ve been with so far. When we saw clips of her masterclass with Torvill and Dean, we could all tell she was going to struggle. She had never skated before.

“However, she may have been the least natural, but she was probably the most hard working.”

Mark, who now lives in Nottingham with his wife and two children, has previously been Dancing on Ice coach and choreographer for actress Nadia Sawalha, businesswoman Rosemary Connelly, Labour politician Oona King and TV personality Donna Air.

Despite his exit from the competitive side of this year’s series, the dad-of-two will continue to be involved in professional routines on the ice and with choreography.

And, now that he is no longer ‘in it to win it,’ Mark revealed to The Gazette.

He also revealed who he thinks has the best chance of taking the title.

He said: “I imagine the final will be between James Jordan and Alex Schauman, Wes from Love Island and Vanessa Bauer, and Melody Thornton and her partner Alex Demetriou.”

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