“Strictlygate”

In the UK it is called ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ in Poland ‘Dancing with the Stars’ (Taniec z Gwiazdami) but it’s the same show franchised out to pollute as much of the planet as possible, just like all the other talent-come-entertainment shows we seem to have these days. Unlike the show that started it all and ran from 1949-1998, “Come Dancing”, the ‘Strictly’ version cannot pretend to be a serious dancing competition given that it needs to include celebrities’ with naturally varying degrees of competence when it comes to ballroom dancing. I’m not sure what the thinking was in deciding to add the word ‘Strictly’ for a dumbed down version of the real thing. ‘Hardly’ might have been a better choice! Anyway, the contestants have always been a mix from relatively talented dancers to jolly types just out for a bit of fun. Some take the competition seriously, others don’t.

Many of these shows have as a common component the requirement for members of the public to spend their hard earned money sending SMS messages to vote for their favourite person or couple. Strictly Come Dancing is no different. The couples dance, the panel of judges give their opinions and marks out of ten, but it is the public SMS votes that count the most. No matter how badly the judges score the contestants, the public can keep them in the competition and vice-versa. Have to confess that I don’t watch the show at all but have seen the odd 15 minutes here and there when either my parents or wife were watching the UK or Polish versions. Nobody in our family has ever bothered voting.

One assumes that the ability for the public to influence the outcome is something the public like, even though it costs them money. One also assumes that a professional standard of dancing is of secondary importance to entertainment value because the overwhelming majority of the voting public are not dance experts so they vote for who they like, not who’s dance is the most technically perfect. The BBC must have decided then that this combination is what gets them the highest ratings. It must therefore be a dance and celebrity based entertainment show, not a dancing competition, right? Apparently not.

The UK show, now in season 6, has gone seriously wrong. A former political correspondent by the name of John Sergeant, dancing with partner Kristina Rihanoff, has been a consistently poor performer but a great personality. Despite being ravaged by the judges who went as far as to call him a “dancing pig in Cuban heels”, he was clearly very committed, trying his hardest and a very lovable personality. The public vote had therefore, just as consistently, put him through every round always at the expense of another couple who were perhaps better dancers but less likeable.

The constant slagging of the judges combined with the increasing bad-attitudes of other contestants who might suggest they are “taking the competition more seriously” have now effectively forced Mr Sergeant to withdraw from the competition. After a tearful farewell dance the public’s favourite couple have left the building.

Why would the BBC allow this to happen? They’ve apparently been after him to join the show for quite a while now and I’m certain he didn’t dance any better in the auditions than he did in the show so it must have been his personality they were after. So he’s in the show for his personality, the public vote for his personality and yet he’s made to look a fool every week and ultimately has no option but to withdraw. Something is seriously wrong here and I can’t help thinking that the BBC have just killed the goose that laid a few golden eggs. This show will never be the same again, and neither should it be.

I was a bit disappointed to find that his Siberian dance partner, Kristina, has been tempted by large wads of cash to spill the beans (and flash her legs) in the News of the World but I suppose that’s to be expected these days.

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