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Jessica Taylor

The road to the final has not been without its scrapes and scares. But, last Sunday, Jessica Taylor sailed into the ultimate edition of Dancing On Ice, ITV1's hit show.

'I never allowed myself to believe I'd get this far,' says Jessica, 28.

'Now, I can't wait for Sunday to show the public and the judges what I can do in my new routines.'

Jessica Taylor

Eager: Jessica Taylor, pictured with skating partner Pavel Aubrecht,
can't wait for the final skate-off in Dancing On Ice on Sunday

Liberty X singer Jessica will join X-Factor runner-up Ray Quinn and reporter Donal MacIntyre for the final skate-off.

But away from the ice, Jessica has her love to keep her warm. She's been married for just over a year to cricketing hero Kevin Pietersen. Pietersen, once described as 'the most complete batsman in cricket', moved from South Africa to the UK in the mid-Nineties.

His mother is English, which entitled him to play for the UK team.

A sporting giant he may be, but he knew nothing about ice skating. For Jessica's debut in front of a TV audience of ten million, Kevin was rinkside to support her.

'Ice skating had been a complete mystery to him. But he was proud as punch and it meant the world to me having him there cheering me on.'

As it happens, it came at the end of a particularly taxing week for Pietersen, who'd squared up to the English Cricket Board and come off worse, losing his captaincy.

ray quinn, jessica taylor and donal mcintyre

The finalists: Ray Quinn, Jessica Taylor and Donal McIntyre get together at ITV studios yesterday

'It had been quite a difficult time for him, yes,' says Jessica, carefully. 'So I think attending my first heat of Dancing On Ice was a welcome bit of escapism.

'He absolutely loved it. And he'd never seen me skate before, so it was a complete surprise to him.'

It was to be the first and last occasion Pietersen could cheer on his wife. He was then on a plane to the Caribbean for the West Indies Test series.

'The cricketing calendar is packed. Kevin is now away from home for up to ten months each year. And that's hard.'

In the act: Jessica and her skating partner Pavel Aubrecht hit the  ice

In the act: Jessica and her skating partner Pavel Aubrecht hit the ice

While she refuses to contemplate the outcome on Sunday, Jessica's only ever been outshone by Quinn.

'There's someone who truly is dancing on ice,' she acknowledges generously.

Quinn is the runaway favourite to win Sunday's final and show trainer and Olympic Gold medallist Christopher Dean confirmed: 'He has been the strongest skater from the start. Ray is a natural talent and he is a really nice guy.'

And when asked if Ray was better than previous celebrities over the past four series, Dean's skating partnerJayne Torvill said: 'Chris Fountain was a very strong skater, but with Ray you can be creative and he can pick up routinies quickly.

'He is enthusiastic and always comes in in a good mood.'


The favourite: Ray Quinn is the white-hot favourite to lift the Dancing On Ice crown, seen here with glamorous partner Maria Fillipov

For Jessica, it won't be the first time she has reached the finals of a contest.

Born in Oxford in June 1980, Jessica spent her formative years in Preston with her parents, Linda and Josh, and her younger brother, Sam, who recently served a prison sentence for dealing cocaine.

It was while working in the customer services department of a large catalogue company that she noticed an advert for auditions for Popstars, the precursor to The X Factor.

Jessica made it to the final ten, but wasn't chosen to be in Hear'Say. The five 'losers' became the band Liberty X and enjoyed a successful seven-year collaboration.


The outsider: Investigative journalist Donal McIntyre and skating partner Florentine Houdineirre surprised everyone by making it to the final three

Liberty X disbanded last year. But Jessica missed performing, as did fellow band member Kelli Young, so they formed pop duo Danger Minx and plan to release new material later this year.

So in love: Jessica has been married to cricketing hero Kevin  Pietersen for just over a year

Married bliss: Jessica has been married to cricketing hero Kevin Pietersen for just over a year

But back to Pietersen ... 'We sparked immediately. I completely clicked with him. I was totally comfortable in his company, absolutely myself. He makes me feel safe. He makes me laugh. He's my partner. He's everything to me.

'We're both extremely family-orientated. It's all about the connection we both feel. I'm a homebody and so is Kevin. Since we've been together, there's nothing we like better than to stay in and have a home-cooked meal.'

Can she imagine starting a family with him?

'Certainly. We want to raise our children together in a happy home. If I had to put my professional life on hold because of motherhood, then, yes, that's what I'd do. Children have to come first.'

Little point asking if this is a good time for Jessica Taylor?

'To be married to the man I love, to be taking part in this fantastic show - I think you could say I feel pretty happy, yes.'

And after Sunday? 'I'll be on the first plane to the Caribbean,' says Jessica. 'I can't wait to see Kevin.'

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