We’ve Been Watching – Dancing on Wheels

by Lynn Connolly

I’m really not sure what to make of this new series. That it’s well intentioned I don’t doubt, but is it not just a tad, well, patronising?

The stated objective of the show is to pair an able bodied celebrity with a wheelchair using person and after a round of vote offs, as per any number of dancing shows, one couple will remain and that couple will represent the UK in the Wheelchair Dance Sport European Championships.

Now I must admit, it’s the first I’ve ever heard of it. I had no clue that such a thing existed, but to be honest, what I know about dance and/or sport, you could write on the back of stamp and still have room for the Lord’s Prayer…

However, there is such an event, and it seems that more than 40 countries are represented and there can be around 5,000 competitors.

So, as I said, each week, one couple are voted off and the rest go forward to the next week’s show. This week, Carolyne and her able-bodied partner, former rugby league player Martin Offiah, left the competition.

During tearful scenes, Martin said, “I’ve learnt so much from Carolyne’s experience…”

And that was only one of many trite lines that were issued forth. We also had Kevin Sacre – yep, him off Hollyoaks – saying gushingly of his partner’s dance abilities, “I don’t see the chair.”

Well, that’s just a lie isn’t it? It got him a round of deafening applause and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house, but why say something so crass? Of course he meant well, he meant it as a compliment, but seriously, I just thought it was a ridiculous thing to say.

And in fact, maybe it was even a bit insulting. Surely the point of the show is to demonstrate what wheelchair users can achieve, so to say he doesn’t see the chair is surely negating the whole point?

However, moving on and we got to see rather a different side of Strictly’s Brian Fortuna – whose name, by the way, always makes me think of Ace Ventura in Pet Detective saying “bumble bay tuna” – because he unleashed his Mr Nasty and wasn’t for taking any prisoners…

For instance, when James O’Shea, the only wheelchair dancer who already had experience as a performer asked Brian for more demanding routines, Brian threw a bit of a fliddy. James stated, quite rightly in my opinion, that simply wheeling the chairs around wasn’t really getting the best out of the dancers, and Brian curtly replied, “Don’t question me!” Ooo, get ‘er.

But frankly, that was about the highlight. I felt, as I mentioned earlier, that the whole ethos was condescending and patronising to the wheelchair users and it felt rather like everything was dipped in a politically correct syrup so thick, it made my teeth ache.

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.