Jonnie Peacock has said he was not offended at all as he spoke for the first time about last Saturday’s Strictly Come Dancing, when judge Shirley Ballas said he had a “spring in his step”.
Ballas, 57, was criticised for making the comment while giving Paralympian Peacock, 24, and his dancing partner, Oti Mabuse, feedback about their quickstep.
Commenting on the routine, which they performed to Stevie Wonder’s Part Time Lover and which scored them 24 points, Ballas told Peacock: “You bring a whole new meaning to putting a spring in your step”, to which Peacock quipped: “Excuse the pun”.
Peacock told the Press Association: “I couldn’t understand everyone’s reaction, I was confounded by it. Because the thing is, she didn’t make the comment, I made the comment.
“She was saying something anyone would say, she’s just looking at me as a dancer. She’s a judge at the end of the day. And I think that’s what is great about the judges on Strictly.
“They’re not really looking at me as a disabled person, they’re looking at me as a dancer, at the steps I’m doing, they’re looking at the footwork, what I can do, what I can’t do, and giving me things to work on.”
Some viewers of the BBC One dancing series expressed their dismay at her faux pas, while others commended her for ‘seeing the dancer, not the disability’.
One fan tweeted: “The thing with Shirley Ballas’ comment was that it was evident she hadn’t seen the disability, just the fantastic dancer. Jonnie’s brilliant!”
Peacock said: “Shirley just said something, I don’t even think she thought anything about it, and I saw an opening because that’s what I’m like, I’m jokey, if I see something I can take the mick out of or make a little joke, so I did that. So if anyone made the comment it was me.
“People get this preconceived notion that there’s a certain way to talk about someone with a disability, and we’re very PC in this country.
“She didn’t say anything wrong, I wasn’t at all offended. She wasn’t insulting me, she was saying it in a very positive manner, things like that are OK to say. I do have a prosthetic leg, I am wearing a blade, I do have a spring in my step, that is a true fact.”
“It’s always good as long as you’re having fun with it, it’s when it edges on the side of insult that it becomes not OK.”
This week Peacock and Mabuse will take on the cha cha in the Halloween-themed show.
They will dress up as pirates as they perform to Olly Murs’ song Troublemaker, which also features Flo Rida.
“It’s the first real Latin number, the first time I’ve got to try and attempt to shake those hips. I have done six weeks of static no hip movement and now I’m attempting to try and speed them up and the cha cha’s not the slowest of movements either, but it’s OK, it’s not as bad as I thought,” he said.
Commenting on the pirate theme, he said he thought it was “hilarious”.
Strictly Come Dancing airs on BBC One at 18:35pm.