Strictly chiefs consider CBeebies presenter with Down’s syndrome as a contestant for this year
Strictly chiefs consider CBeebies presenter with Down’s syndrome as a contestant for this year’s show
Strictly Come Dancing bosses want George Webster, the children’s TV presenter who has Down syndrome, to compete in this year’s show.
The move follows the popularity of the series’s first deaf participant, EastEnders actress Rose Ayling-Ellis, who won last year’s contest.
One insider said: ‘The BBC are seriously considering getting George on the show this year. After the light that Rose shone on the deaf community after her appearance on Strictly, they want to continue to push boundaries.
Strictly Come Dancing bosses want George Webster (pictured), the children’s TV presenter who has Down syndrome, to compete in this year’s show, insiders say
‘There has never been a contestant with Down syndrome before and this really would be something spectacular and so important in raising awareness of the condition.’
Sources say BBC executives believe 21-year-old Webster would be a ‘huge ray of sunshine’ and also help to attract a younger audience in much the same way as his CBeebies co-star Rhys Stephenson, who reached last year’s semi-finals.
The insider said; ‘Having Rhys on the show brought new, younger viewers to the show so George would also be important for that too.
‘The bosses are certain that the audience will love him, but are looking at logistics. He copes really well on CBeebies, but it’s whether he’d be comfortable on the dancefloor.’
Yorkshire-born Webster has made no secret of his desire to appear on the show. Asked by Christine Lampard on ITV’s Lorraine programme in February if he would like to take part, he replied: ‘Yes, I’d love to, another dream come true.’
When he was announced last year as the first BBC children’s presenter with Down syndrome, no mention of his condition was made on air.
Instead, he introduced himself as a man ‘who loves to cook, sing and dance’. He soon became popular with clips showing him performing Saturday Night Fever-style dance moves.
Winner: Rose Ayling-Ellis, with dance partner Giovanni Pernice during the final of Strictly Come Dancing 2021
He was talent-scouted by the BBC from his work as an ambassador for Mencap, the charity for people with learning disabilities.
In a video he made for the organisation, which calls him ‘a mythbuster for Mencap’, he said: ‘I call myself George because that’s who I am. Not Down’s George. I have an amazing life. It’s been very positive.’
Paralympian amputee Jonnie Peacock was Strictly’s first disabled contestant in 2017, followed a year later by Lauren Steadman, a swimmer born without her lower right arm.
Former Royal Marine JJ Chalmers, badly injured by a bomb blast in Afghanistan, took part in Strictly in 2020.