Sunday 19 December 2010

Strictly Speaking

Now that the Grand Final is behind us - and the name of the winner (eerily) appeared in Wikipedia weeks ago, when her odds were 4-1, why didn't I put money on her? could have paid for that new boiler - never mind - As I say, now that the Grand Final is behind us, it's time to 'fess up: I am a Big Strictly Fan. Yes I love it and have been glued to the screen throughout this series. I think it's the best popular television show around - the best talent contest, the best 'reality' show, whatever - and I'm glad it's Christmas next Saturday so I won't notice it's not there any more (apart from the Christmas Special - hoorah!).
Strictly is good old-fashioned entertainment, and what chiefly distinguishes it (and marks it out as old-fashioned) is that the whole thing is conducted in such a spirit of positive good cheer and unforced affection, with no commercial imperative (except as a by-product), no vicious rivalry, no dirty tricks or fixes. Compare and contrast the ghastly X Factor, where minimally talented performers who all sound the same and sing the same dreary repertoire are hand-picked for maximum profit potential, while smug Simon Cowell becomes as rich as a small nation. The X Factor also mercilessly exloits the vulnerable and deluded and causes much human collateral damage on its triumphant progress. Of Strictly, one can truly say: No humans were harmed in the making of this programme. Indeed every contestant seems enhanced by competing - if only by gaining the rudiments of a useful social skill - and those who progress to the later stages become wholly immersed in the experience, changed, and, to all appearances, very much the better for it. They have spent a long time learning to master a very difficult combination of skills - a genuine achievement - and when they invariably reach for the word 'journey', who can blame them?
The competition is at all times good-natured, the judges (apart from the redundant Alesha) are brilliant, the costumes are amazing, the whole thing's as camp as Christmas - and it's fronted by dear old Brucie. What's not to like? (Plenty, it seems. The usual suspects were attacking it on Late Review, I gather, while candidly admitting that they hadn't actually seen it. I'd like to see that approach applied more widely: 'No, I haven't actually read it... didn't make it to the theatre, etc. But here's what I think...' Pah! A plague on 'em.)


  1. These two programmes really do seem to divide the nation, Nige. For some reason, I've turned into an X-Factor convert - even though I wholly disapprove of the commerciality, bias and fixing. I adore Brucie's camp comments, but somehow can't bring myself to watch Strictly - though I wouldn't mind being a contestant.

    Curiously, you mention 'minimally talented' performers on the X-Factor, whereas I've heard that what Strictly lacks is dancing talent. The show certainly offers great PR for Z-list celebs and those whose faces are already known to TV viewers and readers of celeb-crazed tabloid trash. But it's not really a true dancing contest, just another exercise in celebrity exaltation.

  2. I admit to being a Convert - converted by Nige and my sister - and agree with everything you've just written, Nige. I can't quite believe I sat there last night awaiting the results with my heart thumping away as if my daughter were dancing! I do think they improve - very much - even Ann Widdecombe - and bless her for giving it a go (and thank Goodness she didn't get elected ny further or I'd have lost faith in everything). Camp as Christmas indeed - and I do wish they wouldn't all shout quite as much as they do - but a real celebration of dancing and life. I loved every moment. And those dresses....

  3. I think a more serious moral blight is The Apprentice. That programme - oh, along with professional football - exemplifies and reinforces a lot of what is hateful about contemporary Britain.

  4. Yes but if that bunch of self-important deluded prats were footballers they'd be rewarded with huge sums of money and wild adulation, whereas on the Apprentice they're humliliated and made to look like the complete arses they are - which is why I rather like it.

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