Dancing On Wheels Review: Tyred Of Strictly?

February 11, 2010 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

tv-stars-3halfdancingonwheels300DANCING ON WHEELS: Thursday 11th February, BBC3, 9pm ALERT ME

Dip your hand into a bag containing the words celebrity, dancing, strictly, ice, ballroom, and opera and chances are you’ll pull out the title of a primetime TV contest.

Now, programme makers have decided to add a new word to their random celebrity show name generator – “wheels?.

Don’t panic, roller-disco isn’t making a return (well not yet anyway), Dancing On Wheels is all about mastering tango and cha cha in a wheelchair.

A celebrity is paired up with a wheelchair user and they learn a routine. Each week the couples perform in front of a panel of judges and the worst dancers are knocked out.

Despite the contrived concept the result is a dance-competition with a bit more depth than its able-bodied counterparts.

The celebrities are all recognisable from stints on Strictly Come Dancing or have previous dancing experience, but the wheel-chair users are complete novices who, like the rest of us, had never heard of Wheelchair Dance before.

Apparently it’s big in Bulgaria but has never really taken off in the UK. Of the 58 participants in 2007’s European championships, none were British.

That’s all about to change though and the winning pair will go on to represent their country at the Wheelchair Dance Sport Championships in Israel.

Producers are all too keen to show a “journey? in these talent competitions. For most that means a brief sojourn from not very good dancer/skater/singer to a slightly better one. In Dancing On Wheels the enlightenment is real. Competitors become more confident in their abilities and so in themselves.

Choreographer Brian Fortuna has some great moments, at times morphing into a camp mafia boss. When his moves are criticised he releases an eye-watering barrage of swearing, it’s “a matter of respect? he tells us.

Strictly dancer James Jordan takes the nasty-judge role with his wife Ola and Paralympian Ade Adepitan joins him on the panel.

An enjoyable talent show with genuine emotion and a tyre-tracked twist.

Rob says:


Check out www.wheelchairdance.co.uk to see how wheelchair dancing here in the UK isn’t just for disabled people with paralympic upper-body strength – it’s for anyone in a wheelchair who wants to enjoy the fun and exercise of the sport.

Erica McAdam says:

Watching Dancing on Wheels, oh! how I admired the dancers both in chairs and on foot. Congratulations to Brian Fortuna and assistants for showing that because you have a handicap does not make you a lesser person. Brian Fortuna I have admired in his dancing on Strictly, but please could I ask that you do not tarnish what you have achieved by swearing?
The young lady who was voted out this week, I would like to ask a question on her behalf. Her handicap was far more severe than most of the others, would it not be possible for a grading to be taken into account, similar to the Olympics? I salute her braveness in everything she has achieved in such a short time and trust that being ousted from the Dance will not affect her life.
Well done on an excellent show but a little more understanding would bring a smile to all faces.