Disabled ballerina fires back at Strictly Come Dancing backlash over reports about wheelchair user

Paralympian Ellie Simmonds appeared on Strictly last year credit:Bang Showbiz
Paralympian Ellie Simmonds appeared on Strictly last year credit:Bang Showbiz

A disabled ballerina has hit out after backlash over reports 'Strictly Come Dancing' will feature a contestant in a wheelchair.

The BBC Latin and ballroom competition is said to be casting a wheelchair user for the first time in the upcoming season, having featured a number of stars with disabilities in the past including Paralympian Ellie Simmonds last year and actress Rose Ayling-Ellis, who is deaf and won the 2021 series.

However, the report was met with backlash from some fans has led ballerina Kate Stanforth to fire back at the "ablelist" response.

She tweeted: "It’s been announced that @bbcstrictly are going to have a wheelchair user this year.

"I’ve just sat, honestly close to tears, as I’ve scrolled through the ableist comments about how wheelchair users are not welcome on the programme but also in general society."

Katie - who notes in her Twitter bio that she is an inclusive dance school owner as well as a model and activist - urged people in wheelchairs to embrace their talents and realise they can dance.

She continued: "You’re just as worthy as anyone else to do whatever you want to do and I’m honestly so sorry society makes us feel bad this little sometimes.

"Our dance academy will be doing our own Strictly inspired classes for anyone who wants to dance throughout Strictly season (wheelchair or ambulatory), so please, don’t let this put you off!"

Including in her tweet was a photo of herself in striking a pose in her wheelchair wearing sportswear, as well as a tweet from a troll hitting out at the apparent decision from BBC.

The unidentified person wrote: “I’m sorry about anyone in a wheelchair but if this is for real then sorry then we stop watching. Then they will be having dancing dogs or cats as partners. Include everything on gods earth. Why not?”

According to reports this week, the BBC was meant to introduce its first wheelchair user last year bot the "logistics are very difficult" and they didn't have time to train their professional dancer for this specific goal.

However, a source said: "This is an extremely challenging project but one that Strictly bosses think is worth it and believe it is going to be absolutely brilliant. There is so much excitement about this at the BBC right now."