Tag Archives: Bruce Forsyth

Strictly: the final furlong

Bruce-articleTwo weeks to go. Two dances per couple tonight. It strikes me, this year more than most for some reason, that, much as I love it, Strictly is almost identical year after year. Watching a clip of Brucie’s “jokes”, I’d defy anyone to guess which year we were in. Or decade, come to that. He and Len have missed the post-Savile memo about how cringingly inappropriate lecherous remarks  by old men to young women are (ditto casual homophobia, but at least in that regard Craig and Bruno can hold their own, as it were).

There’s a change in the celebrities obviously, and some of the professional dancers. The female member of the judging panel has varied (Arlene/Alesha/Darcey). But the male judges, Dave Arch and his orchestra, the set, dances, make-up, props and costumes remain reliably, comfortably the same.

The producers tried something new last week with the dance style mash-up, which was fine, by and large, but just as at the end of every episode of the Simpsons, all was back to normal afterwards.

The thing that makes me smile most of all are the slips-of-the-tongues over the “Sunday show” (that’s actually filmed straight after the Saturday one). Zoe Ball saying to Alfie Boe on Friday night It Takes Two “So we’ll see you performing on the results show tomorrow. Er, Sunday.” Far too expensive and time-consuming to dress and do full make-up on all the celebs and pro-dancers two nights in a row.

Obviously Tess and Darcey change their dresses between shows. But my hairdresser Helen pointed out that their hair styles change too (it’s put into an up-do if it was down or vice-versa). It must be a frantic half hour backstage for the stylists whilst the phone vote’s going on.

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Strictly: A bit too Special

I like Strictly. It’s the comfort food of Saturday night telly. A glitzy, sequined, orange spray-tanned shepherds pie of a programme. Many people have put a huge amount of physical effort into training for it, but all you need to do as a viewer is watch. Slouching on your sofa, drink in hand, taking the piss. And bitching with other Twitter folk about how much the wardrobe department must hate Tess.

This year, we’re all keeping an eye on Darcey Bussell as the new judge. She’s undoubtedly knowledgeable on dance but her first appearance was marred by (presumably nerve-driven) repetitions of a horsey “Yah?” to every contestant, but that have fortunately stopped now. Perhaps because Craig is sticking pins into her leg under the table.

In the order of things, he and Len have been separated by the Bussell this year, which means Len is the person who gets slapped in the face by Bruno’s histrionic arm movements (which is actually pretty funny). Darcey can be as harsh a marker as Craig, and frankly I’ve got my eye on her after she marked the delightful Lisa Riley much lower than everyone else last week – I don’t trust ballet dancers to be well-balanced around bigger women, and in my (entirely ill-informed) opinion, Riley is top-notch in every respect.

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Strictly Come Dancing: Comfort And Joy

Well, hullo. I really didn’t expect to be back here after last time. Me and Strictly were finished. The love had died, it was trying too hard and I discovered a new Saturday Night Chippy (The Blue Dolphin in Hastings, in case you’re interested – half-price gherkins if you mention PLA. Probably)

Anyway, thanks to The Quirks of Fate*(*The Blogging Rota) here I am for The Final! So, Strictly, can you win my love back? You feelin’ lucky?

Following the handy rundown of previous weeks and their themes – Broadway = Good, Halloween = Bad, Wembley = Ugly and Movies = Yawn – we now find ourselves at The Final in BLACKPOOL! It’s just like Old BLACKPOOL Times! After the Wembley Dancing Disaster 2011 (for all you Bee Gees fans out there),Blackpool actually works brilliantly for the final. It’s exciting, atmospheric, spacious yet doesn’t have that Bloody Awful Echo (…Bloody Awful Echo) (Sorry).

I Saw Three Chariots Come Strutting By

And the Opening Number. Oh My God. The dancers come out dressed as Gladiators to LIVING ON A PRAYER. Despite the fact that Artem really does still look far too nice to leave anybody off his Christmas Card list never mind kill them, they do damn well. And just when you think it can’t get any better: a) there is That Key Change (still The Greatest Moment In Rock in my opinion) and b) At the key change the finalists come in on giant foam Chariots! Bonus points to Chelsee Healey for belting the song out like she’s on a Hen Night. It’s camp, hysterical, entirely unnecessary and possibly the best thing I’ve seen on telly all year (take that, jumper-toting Swedish lady!).  Continue reading

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Strictly Come Dancing: Dear Strictly

It’s more than 12 hours after my once-beloved SCD finished last night. I am still in shock. So much so that this blog is going to be a different kettle of fish to previous missives on the subject. You’ll have to forgive me, dear reader – it has, as they say, Been Emotional.

Dear Strictly,

We’ve had some wonderful times, you and me. When we first met, I hated Saturday Night Telly, with its mix of gaudy gameshows, Dad’s Army, dry documentaries about Cholera and Noel Bloody Edmonds. I knew nothing about dancing and you were much derided for being a throw-back to a dying era. People (hi Mum!) said we would never work.

You came, with your random mix of people off the telly, off the Olympics and quite often off their heads. Your sequins sparkled. Your judges were daring but fair, caring only about the dancing and not about themselves. You had a slightly-neglected old-school host whom everyone was delighted to see again, who was merely grateful to regain his rightful place on primetime telly. More than anything else, you were characterized by your good humour. Sure, people were called “contestants”, but they were participants rather than competitors. They were encouraged to do well and by and large did so, or at least had a ball. Who knew that woman who got bashed about by Phil Mitchell on Eastenders would be so good? That Julian Clary would be so bad? Who even knew who Kara Tointon was?

I loved you, Strictly. But more to the point, everybody loved you. Which meant everybody wanted a piece of you and everybody wanted to be like you. ITV looked longingly at your ratings success as you tore up Saturday Nights. They came up with this thing called X Factor. It was just a tired old rehash of its previous entries into the class that I like to handily term Pop Factory Crap. How could it ever trouble you, Strictly? You were a class apart, you didn’t need all that. You had series after series of Feelgood Glory, where it was simply about the Dancing rather than the ridiculous sideshows.

But tragically, people lapped up the Pop Factory Crap in their millions. And you got scared, Strictly, You thought that every person that watched that wouldn’t want you anymore and that THIS was the future.

So you changed, Strictly. Firstly, you ditched one of your original judges for being Too Old. She was in fact younger than the oldest judge who was a man, but somehow that didn’t seem to matter to you.

BLACKPOOL!

Despite this, we were ok for a while. You still had lots of good dancers and did laudable things like going to Blackpool (BLACKPOOL!). It wasn’t quite like the olden days, but it looked like you were going to get your spark back. 

Where It All Started Going Wrong

Then you got a gift, Strictly. Ann Widdecombe. She couldn’t dance and didn’t care. People were split in their Marmite-style camps. But it was impossible not to have an opinion, so everyone did. Everybody was talking about you, writing about you, watching you again. It felt GOOD.

But it went to your head, Strictly. And look at you now. Bloated and self-satisfied. 100 minutes long! Even my patience is exhausted by the end, so it’s no wonder even the participants have apparently well and truly had enough. Sitting through endless smug jokes by Sir Brucie, who continues to think people watch the show simply for his grandstanding, tired old nonsense. Through puerile VTs prior to each dance designed simply to fill time with stupid, children’s tv-style antics? Through look-at-me use of props that add nothing to the dancing (except for Artem and Holly’s number, which was clever and beautifully choreographed)? Continue reading

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Strictly Come Dancing – It’s time to meet the Muppets…

Look, Strictly started it with Craig and Len doing their Statler and Waldorf impersonations. If they don’t want to draw our attention to the performers who are all startled expressions, fluff and jerky performances they shouldn’t lampshade them.

I’ll admit my heart sank at the concept of Broadway night. For one thing every night is pantomime night on the Strictly dancefloor, especially when it comes to the judges. Unlike the hair-trigger audience who appear to have been stuffed full of ’70s orange squash and pre-health and safety Smarties, my favourite of the judges is resident ‘villain’ Craig. He seems to me to be the only one judging dancing as opposed to national treasure status. And the day he finally loses it and punches Bruce on the nose for one of his homophobic comments will be Fab-u-lous.

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Strictly Come Dancing: Chilly willies & warm lap dances

I confess to getting a bit distracted at the beginning of this because I spotted Paul ‘Silver fox of the Great British Bake Off’ Hollywood in the audience and started thinking about cakes. But that’s no bad thing. It allowed the Brucie drivel to wash over me in a not unpleasant, bun-scented reverie.

Several things struck me this week:

  • Brucie really shouldn’t be allowed to mention Audley’s ‘rhythm’ without a useful aide (and I’d volunteer) quietly wrapping Nancy’s boa around his neck & doing a little bit of constricting to shut him up
  • Audley comes across as a lovely bloke: he won’t win, but I like him a lot
  • With Len Goodman talking about things getting a bit ‘chilly around his willy’ and Bruno’s pantomime letching, it can get too much like a Carry on film at times, and not in a good way
  • The show is currently far too long for someone with my attention span – which actually makes me pleased couples will be voted off from now onwards
  • Others on Twitter may mock (Our Man in the South, I’m looking at you. ‘Bertie Bassett’ indeed) but I thought Anita Dobson looked fantastic in her Carmen Miranda salsa outfit, and she danced beautifully too
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Strictly Come Dancing – Amazing Jase and the Boa-Constricted

Following on from OMITS’ sterling work, it is now my turn to take my rightful place in the Shadow of the Glitterball. From the safety of my laptop, you understand – me on a dancefloor is the sort of occasion that court orders were invented for.

Nothing unusual to report on the first bit, same as ever i.e. Bruce making the sort of jokes found on the floor of a Christmas cracker factory whilst Tess vacantly looks on in a dress that gives her that whole “toilet roll holder they forgot to finish” vibe. Has the show taken a leaf out of X-Factor and started theming? If so, this week must be Ghastly Novelty Fancy Dress week.

First up, Harry Judd from McFly. He too seems to have embraced the Fancy Dress theme by coming as a darts player. Meanwhile, his partner Aliona looks a bit like that girl that murdered her dad in Coronation Street. Despite this inauspicious start, their Cha Cha Cha (or Cha cubed, for those of you as sad as me), to probably the most insanely catchy pop song of the last 5 years is a lot of fun. A bit jerky and uncertain, for sure. But he’s an enthusiastic performer and they do seem to have chemistry. The whole thing is very enjoyable right up until the point where Bruno starts talking about spunk. I of course missed the next bit whilst I threw up but apparently they scored quite well. I did however make it back in time to see the non-dancing celebrities awkwardly mingling in the background and was struck by the similarities between Robbie Savage’s grinny facial expression and that of Roland Rat. Has anybody ever seen them both in the same room? Postcards to the usual address.   Continue reading

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Desert Island Discs: Archive Addiction

Curse you, Radio 4! I’d just about got over my Twitter addiction, was taking it one day at a time, submitting to a higher power, remembering to brush my teeth, and then you go and launch the Desert Island Discs archive and that’s another lost weekend. Lost weekend in the John and Yoko sense meaning 18 months, and incidentally do you know that Yoko Ono is the only castaway ever to choose a Sean Lennon song? And that another of her choices, Lili Marlene, has been chosen by castaways as diverse as VS Naipul and Norman Mailer? Or that Mailer’s luxury was the finest marijuana, and that illicit drugs were also chosen by Haneif Kureshi and Sir Peregrine Worsthorne? Or that both Peregrine and David Mitchell chose books by Evelyn Waugh? You can see how you get a bit caught up in it.

It’s early days, so there are inevitably a few little teething troubles. The search engines don’t always work effectively, and there are surely a load more interesting facts and figures than the ten most chosen tracks (all classical. Beethoven’s 9th Symphony has been picked 97 times. Though the Beatles – all tracks collated – have been picked 247 times, list fans.).

And not all the people you want to hear are available. It’s an incredible archive – you can hear everyone from Sybille Bedford (who?) in July 1998, to the present day. But so many of the ones I remember most fondly were earlier than this. John Peel (1990), Alfred Wainwright (1988), Bruce Forsyth (1996, in which he completely wiped the floor with Sue Lawley) – these are some I’d love to hear again. And some of the older ones from before my time, the Roy Plomley years: Deborah Kerr and Ivor Novello in the 1940s; Alfred Hitchcock and Paul Robeson in the 1950s; just about everybody in the 1960s but especially Julie Andrews, Beryl Reid, Alan Bennett and Fanny Craddock.

The FAQ does have the throwaway line, ‘We aim to make more programmes available in the future.’ WHEN? WHEN?

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Strictly Christmas Dancing: Ho ho hum

Da-da-DA-da-(*insert jingling bells here*)-Da-da-DA-DA! (*insert more jingling bells here*).

Yes that’s right folks, it’s the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special! Only this year with a RADICAL new format, in that all 5 contestants have never appeared on the show before. Far out, man.

It all starts well enough. A pyjama-clad Matthew Cutler (provoking scenes of mass hysteria to the point where my ear is still ringing 15 hours later) leads the Professionals through a bizarre group dance number which climaxes in the contestants jumping out of cardboard boxes. Typical, isn’t it – all those things they must have had for Christmas, yet all they’re interested in is the box.

Vince Cable and Erin Boag. Photo from The Guardian.

Following this, everything else seems to be reassuringly the same. Bruce enters as flamboyantly as ever (“why has he just flashed that Christmas tree?” enquires an eagle-eyed Mama VG), plus Tess’s outfit is up (or should that be down) to the usual standard – which this week seems to be based on that of the Innovations Catalogue. It’s strapless, it’s strapped, it’s off the shoulder, it’s satin, it’s velour, it’s long, it’s short – I bet it probably opens jars, has a torch function and pumps up car tyres too, if pushed.

Anyway, time for the all-new shelebriddy contestants! And it’s John Barrowman! “Hey, Mom! Look what I found under the tree!” he shrieks, clutching a valiantly-grinning Kristina Rihanoff. “Still, I bet his mother’s pleased, given what he usually manages to find under the tree” snarks an increasingly-weary Mama VG. I sympathise re weariness– 30 seconds of listening to John Barrowman and I’m already revealing the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden to anyone who’ll listen. “I said I’d only do this if I was covered in bling!” squeals Barrowman. Unfortunately, the BBC costume department seemed to have stopped listening after the first letter and covered him in bubblewrap instead. An easy mistake to make, I’m sure you’ll agree. Anyway, they do a Quickstep, which to me just looks like a Panda Pops-addled infant racing around at a school disco. Still, the judges liked it a lot and the audience are “standing up!” (DRINK!)

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Strictly: new series high-kicks off

Well this is going to be fun. Viewers of every age, gender and sexual orientation should have something or someone to keep them entertained. The dancing celebs only got paired off last night, but I can tell already it’s going to be an amusing series.

What’s good so far?

  • Opinionated Tory Catholic Ann ‘I’m not actually holding a whip right now but I’ve got one in my bag if you don’t behave’ Widdicombe, who said of herself ‘I’m the pantomime act’. Clearly not planning to wear high heels, but sporting an excellent flicky new haircut. Seeing her paired off with Anton du Beke was priceless. That’ll teach him for Hole in the Wall and thoughtless racism
  • For the enjoyment of sports lovers – Peter bloody Shilton. And Gavin Henson, looking exactly like a Chippendale made into a Ken doll and wondering out loud if it’s all going to be ‘too arousing’
  • Paul Daniels partnered with the gorgeous Ola with (I’m guessing) the somewhat long suffering Debbie McGee watching
  • I’m not sure what to make of Pamela Stephenson deciding to be on it, but she’s gorgeous and since her lovely hubby Billy Connolly is watching, it’s double royalty as far as I’m concerned 
  • Seeing the woman with the most adored bottom of the 1970s, The Good Life’s Barbara, Felicity Kendal looking minxy as hell
  • Patsy Kensit!
  • The stupendous Craig Revel Horwood already sharpening his claws and getting his tongue ready to drip acid
  • Some rather hot new dancers have joined the mix, including one from High School Musical who is partnering Corrie’s Tina O’Brien

And we haven’t even mentioned Goldie, Michelle Williams and Matt Baker. The only downside so far, why isn’t the ever adorable Ian Waite partnering anyone this year?

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