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.
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.
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.
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)?
And, worse than anything, those BLOODY JUDGES. Oh, Len. Once you were the proud figurehead of Strictly and everything it was about. Technical judging, yes. And teaching people about the dance. But, above all, encouraging people for having a good go. But now you simply pick who you like and judge from there. You’re inconsistent; one minute you’re full of technical criticism, the next you’re shouting over the top of Craig for doing the same thing (presumably not at all motivated by your cheery borderline homophobic banter with Bruce between dancers). All the judges are laced with spite, with the honorable exception of Alesha. Bruno makes every judgment centre around him and his absurd posturing, whilst everybody gleefully rips apart the choreography. The professional dancers, perhaps understandably, are moved to hurl abuse at the Judges from the sidelines, whilst the contestants childishly snigger and whisper to each other in the background, preen and talk of nothing but staying in the competition and being Top Of The Leaderboard and drown in their own self-delusion (Nancy Del’Olio, I am looking STRAIGHT AT YOU).
And you know what the worst thing is, Strictly? In the middle of this whole embarrassing, shouty, exhibitionist, foul-tempered mess, you had Chelsee Healey giving one of the best dances I have ever seen. Her Quickstep with Pasha was camp (Strictly Air!), well-staged without using props for the sake of it, fun, brilliant and uplifting. This is what you’re best at and nothing else on television comes close. Can’t you see?
But alas, too little, too late. The time has come for us to take some space, so I can see whether you can ever be like you once were. It’s not me, Strictly – it’s you.
Posted by a heartbroken Velocity Girl