January 2009 is shaping up to be a pretty miserable month and we're less than a fortnight in!
Aside from the arrival of summer and the end of the recession, the one thing that's almost guaranteed to cheer us up is the sight of 13 celebrities spinning around on an ice rink, dressed in garish outfits.
Yes, Dancing On Ice is back with a new series, which began on Sunday January 11.
Among the contestants are soap babes Gemma Bissix and Roxanne Pallett, who, despite admitting to getting along really well, have a few personal scores to settle.
"She's the northern soap bird, I'm the southern soap bird," explains Gemma, who returned to EastEnders earlier this year after a successful stint in Hollyoaks playing villainous Clare Devine.
"I'm blonde, she's brunette, so there's some rivalry there. I might blunt her skates when she's not looking or something like that," she joked.
They will face competition from Loose Women presenter Coleen Nolan and Melinda Messenger, who are both excited about the calibre of their male counterparts - journalist Donal MacIntyre and ex-footballer Graeme Le Saux, among others.
"I think the standard this year is far higher than any other year, particularly for the guys. No disrespect to the previous fellas, but this year's lot are fantastic," Melinda says.
The former glamour model is bracing herself for criticism from the judges.
"At that point the relief I've gotten through it will be enough to anaesthetise any pain that I would feel from the judges' comments, I hope. But otherwise it's all fair game, that's what we've put ourselves up there for," she says.
"You just hope they not going to be too hard on us in the first week, it would be nice to get through that one gently."
TV presenter Michael Underwood is "over the moon" to be back on the ice, after having to pull out of last year's competition due to an ankle injury.
"Although I know there's still a piece of metal in there, and psychologically it's still playing on my mind, I can't use it as an excuse now. It's about getting the practice in and learning the routines," he says.
Former soap actor Todd Carty is also worried about learning the routines, not least because he's afraid of dropping skating partner Susie during one of the lifts.
"I don't want Susie splitting her head open as she happens to have a massive husband with doorway-wide shoulders. If I deal with her I have to deal with him too," he jokes.
Injury is what most contestants fear the most. Former Liberty X member Jessica Taylor, who fellow contestants describe as "outstanding", admits that the most embarrassing moment of rehearsals so far has been bawling her eyes out when she took a tumble.
"I was in floods of tears when I had a really bad fall because I'm a bit of a softie really. I thought I'd probably cry but it was a pretty bad fall," she says - adding that her England cricketer husband Kevin Pietersen was being very supportive.
Rehearsals may be in their early days but former X Factor contestant Ray Quinn says he's already started to acquire a "skater's bum" as a result of the practice.
"Your jeans get tight around your legs, they're like skinny jeans now," he says proudly.
And of course, a huge part of the show is the spangly Lycra outfits which are as frightening to some contestants as they are exciting to others.
"When I was younger I used to design costumes so I'm really excited about dressing up," Blue Peter presenter Zoe Salmon says.
Todd, however, best known for playing Grange Hill's Tucker or Walford's Mark Fowler, was not so keen.
"I've asked to wear black so I'll probably get pink," he says - adding that his friends were already making cruel jibes.
Actor Jeremy Edwards thinks differently.
"I'm not scared of sequins and Lycra, I'm thoroughly looking forward to that, I think it's fun, I think it's camp, it's what Dancing On Ice should be," he says.
Former rugby star Ellery Hanley agrees.
"My partner Frankie bought me a pink book and the first thing she said to me was 'embrace pink because that's probably what you'll be wearing', so I've embraced it - it's all part of the occasion," he says.
The tight, bright outfits are reminiscent of BBC One's Strictly Come Dancing, but naturally, the contestants swear Dancing On Ice has plenty on the ballroom dancing show.
"If someone falls when they're dancing they get back up again (with this) you've got blades, you've got ice, there's the speed involved," Roxanne says.
"I think it's the most challenging show out there - physically and emotionally.
"It's got the wow factor and it's got the risk."
The full line-up is as follows:
Graeme Le Saux
DANCING ON ICE - EXTRA TIME
This is the fourth series of the competition. Ex-Coronation Street actress Gaynor Faye won the first series, former rugby star Kyran Bracken the second, with one-time Hear'Say singer Suzanne Shaw coming first in the last series.
Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean mentor each of the celebrities. The duo famously earned a perfect score of nine 6.0s on their way to winning a gold medal at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. They also won a bronze medal at 1994 Winter Olympics.
The last series of the show attracted an average audience of more than 11 million viewers, making it one of the year's most-watched programmes.
This year will be the first time the Ice Panel - Karen Barber, Nicky Slater, Jason Gardiner, Ruthie Henshall and Robin Cousins - have returned with an unchanged line-up.
The format has been sold around the world, becoming a hit in Chile, Germany and Italy among others.
Dancing On Ice began on ITV1 on Sunday January 11.