WHEN Ryan Bell was at the dog track racing whippets, he never dreamed it would lead to him appearing on a TV show with a famous dance troop.
The 21-year-old from Hartlepool is among 150 people who will appear with Ashley Banjo and his group Diversity on a Sky 1 show that starts this week.
Ashley and fellow members of Diversity, which won Britain’s Got Talent in 2009, spent last summer in Stockton teaching ordinary members of the public how to dance as part of a challenge to get the whole town moving.
As well as locals from Stockton, people from Hartlepool and Billingham also got involved.
Ryan was at the Stockton Whippet Racing Club (WRC) track with his dad Steve, who runs Steve Bell Auto Repairs in Waldon Street, Hartlepool, when members of the show’s production crew approached him.
He was reluctant at first but a friend put his name down and soon he was busting a move with the street dance heroes.
The show sees a different group of people each week learning the moves, from street sweepers and bus drivers to policemen and nurses, culminating in all the participants dancing in Stockton High Street during an unforgettable finale.
Ryan will be seen in week four of the show, with his category featuring 30 other people connected to the leisure and entertainment sector.
Ryan, from the town’s Byron Street, spent two weeks learning an intensive dance routine with Diversity in front of the TV cameras.
He said: “I didn’t want to do it at first but I’m glad I did, it was great.”
Ryan, a former Manor College of Technology student who is waiting to start a fabrication apprenticeship at Hartlepool College of Further Education, admitted he had never danced before, “apart from throwing some shapes about” in the town’s Showroom bar.
He added: “At first we found it really hard, but then we got used to it.”
Ryan said he enjoyed meeting new people, many of which have stayed in touch, and having a “great laugh”. There were lots of individuals who overcame emotional and physical obstacles as they came together to rise to the dance challenge.
Other people who got involved include Anita Burke, 46, from Billingham, who is recovering from breast cancer having battled the illness twice in six years.
Shari Spowart, who runs Sunrise Tanning Salon in Hartlepool’s King Oswy Drive and lives in Billingham, and Hartlepool Round Table member James Black, 28, who is a Stockton Borough Council auditor and also from Billingham, also took part.
Ashley Banjo’s Big Town Dance on Sky 1 is on Wednesdays at 8pm, starting tomorrow.