Ellie Simmonds for Strictly Come Dancing 2017?
- Bang Showbiz
- 14 December 2016
Ellie Simmonds is reportedly the "number one choice" for the 'Strictly Come Dancing' 2017 line up, according to BBC insiders
Ellie Simmonds is reportedly the "number one choice" for 'Strictly Come Dancing' 2017.
The 22-year-old Paralympic swimmer was invited to the semi-final of the BBC dancing competition on Saturday (10.12.16) in order to "get a feel" for the atmosphere as show bosses are reportedly targeting the gold medallist for next year's line up.
A source said: "They wanted to introduce her to the 'Strictly' family and to get a feel for the place and the programme.
"By all accounts she had a fabulous time. It's early days, but we would love her next year. She is our number one choice by a country mile."
Ellie suffers with achondroplasia - a genetic disorder that is a common cause of dwarfism - but has dominated the Paralympic swimming tables after bringing home two gold medals in Beijing when she was just 13. Since then, Ellie won two golds, a silver, and a bronze at London's 2012 games, as well as securing yet another gold and a bronze at the recent Rio Olympics.
The BBC's decision to focus on getting Ellie on the show comes as Director-general Lord Tony Hall revealed he was aiming to boost the representation of disabled people on television from 1.2% to 5% by next year.
The insider added: "Having a disabled star on a prime time show like Strictly is the most positive message you can send."
Ellie's disability means she stands at 4ft 1in and would make her the smallest contest ever in the history of 'Strictly Come Dancing', just ahead of current series contestant and Olympic gymnast Claudia Fragapane, who was booted from the show over the weekend.
Insiders say Ellie's height is not an issue, as they have "smaller male dancers" to pair her with, such as Claudia's dance partner AJ Pritchard.
Another insider told The Mirror newspaper: " Claudia Fragapane is only 4ft 7in - that wasn't an issue whatsoever when she was paired with AJ Pritchard.
"We have lots of smaller male dancers who would be just fine."