Camilla Dallerup and Kevin Adams (Skate Nation and Jump Nation)
Asha Kirby (Skate Nation)
Ankur Bahl (Jump Nation)
CBBC, 18 July to 19 September 2009, 2 January 2010 (10 episodes in 1 series + 1 special)
as Jump Nation, BBC Two, 9 January to 20 March 2010 (11 episodes in 1 series)
Skate Nation looked for a team of three young skaters (and one adult), who would be able to perform a freestyle skating performance, to be performed on roller skates. Of some description - and, before watching this show, we really didn't know that there were different sorts of skate.
The series began with fourteen groups in the final auditions, and progressed through Skate Camp, where the competitors honed their skills, before arriving at the Skate Stadium. Here, the judges had their say, the audience put in their votes, and the two groups with the lowest scores had a skate-off to see who would leave. This process rolled on until the grand final, and the show included some non-competitive features - a demonstration by some professionals, some skating tips and tricks from Asha, and would Sam or Mark ever learn to stand up?
Though well-executed, the show suffered from some conceptual weaknesses. From the episodes we saw, it felt as though the judges (Fame Academy choreographer Kevin Adams, Strictly regular Camilla Dallerup, and skating professional Asha Kirby) were marking much more on the dance performance than on technical skating proficiency. The arena felt a little too small, and the slippery nature of a television studio floor will affect some skaters. The routines were coreographed by outside help, and the judges could only give "Gold", "Silver", or "Bronze" marks. The confusion was shared by some of the competitors, who didn't seem to know what the judges were looking for.
We shouldn't be unduly harsh. Prior to this series, we cannot remember the BBC ever attempting to reflect the popularity of skating amongst young people. Artistic skating may only be a minority pursuit within the skating fraternity, but it is one of the more televisual, and the grammar of the show (almost a carbon copy of The X Factor) will have helped to keep some of the audience on board - we don't think it's an accident that many names in the credits had previously worked on Strictly. Even so, it would surely have been more educational and more varied to show different disciplines within the broad church of skating - some pure speed, some slalom work, some hockey and street performances, that kind of thing.
The winners made a follow-up programme from the World Games in Taiwan, transmitted in early 2010.
The same production team made a series for jump rope teams. Many of our criticisms, and the bulk of our praise, apply to this show as well; we believe it was recorded while Skate Nation was on air.
Skate Nation: Coast Bladers
Jump Nation: Taurus
The two Skate Camp episodes were filmed at the Royal Masonic School for Girls in Rickmansworth.