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.
One thing we all love is having hate-figure contestants to mock, but this year’s bunch hasn’t thrown up an obvious Nancy Dell’Olio or Edwina Currie. People keep changing how good they are on a weekly basis, which makes it unpredictable. Which is good. Poor Sid Owen started the series amazingly well but seems to be leeching confidence on a weekly basis, not helped by his partner Ola being away on compassionate leave in Poland for the training sessions but back for the show (there was a stand-up dancer to show him the moves, he wasn’t practising with a blow-up Ola doll). It must have been confusing. The obviously never-great celeb that we probably thought most likely to go this week (after Johnny Ball and Jerry Hall) was Michael Vaughan. Tries very hard but has always been out of time. EXCEPT this week, when the guy was just great all of a sudden, and is right up there near the top of the leader board. Fantastic turnaround.
Nicky from Westlife has been struggling too, but the last two weeks have been much better for him. Largely since, in Hollywood week, he went literally green-faced to play Jim Carrey in The Mask. It made me wonder, idly, if having a face covered in make-up made him more comfortable as a performer.
In terms of my current favourites, I’m a big fan of Lisa Riley and of Dani Harmer (Tracy Beaker). And Louis Smith, the Olympic gymnast is talented as well as being phenomenally bendy and easy on the eye (apart from the haircut. Less keen on that). Plus he’s paired with the gorgeous Flavia, so it is a pleasure to watch the hot, beautiful couple of the series in action as I eat my crisps.
And on the subject of admiration, Robin and Artem are looking mighty fine this year, and it’s endearing that their partners, Lisa and Fern, appreciate their assets. And Colin Salmon is one good looking fella too, even if he is almost twice the height of partner Kristina Rihanoff.
The jury in my head is still out on Victoria Pendleton. It bores the pants off me that Brendan Cole gets so protective over her. She’s a fit as heck Olympic gold medal winning cyclist and a grown woman. Not a weedy little victim. Man-up Victoria, and Cole, treat her like a normal person not a baby.
One celeb I object to on principle is Denise van Outen because in my view, having been in Chicago, she’s effectively a professional dancer, and therefore it’s ‘cheating’ that she’s in it at all. She dances beautifully, and has done from week 1, but it’s still not an even contest compared to the others.
But my main objection to Strictly so far (leaving out the ongoing objections to Brucie, Tess and the ghastly, tedious pisspoor VTs) is that there has been far too much attention lavished on ‘Specials’. We had Hollywood week as well as last night’s Halloween special. There’s something about removing a programme from its normal milieu that wears thin quickly with me. It tends to lose the essence of what I like about watching the show in the first place. This is true in Casualty and any other series. I think all the Special business is to amuse the backstage people so they can have fun with costumes, make-up and props.
We need more regular weeks. The small, normal everyday tales of ordinary folk overcoming blisters, injury, coping with wearing stupid shoes (the women) working their arses off and being transformed into remarkably good dancers. Now that, as Paul Daniels would say, is magic.
Posted by Inkface