DANCING on Ice star Antony Cotton has revealed his heartbreak at the sudden death of his best pal.
The Coronation Street actor says close pal Gareth Donnelly was the first person he told when he was offered the show.
But Met police officer Gareth died suddenly of a lung haemorrhage.
Last week, viewers saw an emotional Antony dedicate his first performance to his friend.
Antony, 42, tols the MEN: “I adored him.
“He had a very different life to me, he was in the police, so as far removed from showbiz as you could get.
“He was the first person I told about Dancing on Ice. He was beside himself with excitement and promised to be there on the first night – and then, of course, he wasn’t.”
Brave Gareth had already overcome testicular cancer and a heart op in previous years.
But he collapsed and died in the front door of his home in July this year.
Antony added: “When his brother rang to tell me I just didn’t believe him. It was like it wasn’t real.”
Gareth left behind heartbroken wife Amy and a one-year-old daughter.
When Antony performed on ice – Amy was there sitting by his patner Peter and his mum and dad.
The Corrie legend added: ” I needed to say his name out loud, because without a doubt he would have been there.”
During the routine, Antony caused controversry by taking a cheeky peep down his dance partners top – with host Philip Schofield jumping to defend him.