Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Tu vuò fà l'americano ?

Have any of you watched Dancing with the Stars? Yep, it’s a decent substitute when we’re out of The Strictly Season™ but it’s no real thing. I’ve always thought it was a little flash, a little brazen, a little, well, American. The focus is on gimmicks and showbiz and gossip (oh my!) – hot, young dancers replaced by hot, young dancers year on year. And that’s great for the USA if that’s what tickles its fancy. But we’re not American. And we’re different. Strictly Come Dancing started out as good, clean fun (kinda like a bubble bath). Yes, it’s fabulous and showy – I can’t argue with that – but it’s not always been about the show (dahhling), it’s also been about the story. Everyone has their favourite pro and part of the delight of learning of the new celebs each year is finding out who’s dancing with whom. In the UK, we love, yes, a journey – the underdog takes the glitterball, yada yada - we’re leeches for it. And we become fond of people. The pros and judges are not just background decoration to us, they're not the baubles, they're the branches – an integral point of the show. They’re the ones who are there year on year – if anything, it’s the celebrity contestants who are baubly, flash-in-the-pan (though perhaps an expensive pan – Tefal or summat?) Is our lovely show going the way of the U S of A?

So it seems. Rally the cries! We’ll blame that little thing called media. Think how much coverage SCD got when rumours of Flavia and Matt’s relationship began to surface? And where is Flavia this year? Still on the show. Who didn’t discuss that catsuit? And where is Ola this year? Still on the show. Happily married Darren and Lilia’s collection of trophies is hardly front page news-of-the-world is it? Neither are Karen’s world class latin dance credentials. So where are all of them these days? Ditched. Good and proper, like. An’ all coz they ain’t gonna run off with their celebs, perhaps? We wonder if Brian’s been ditched as he’s ‘shacked up with that-bird-from-Hollyoaks’ (tabloid speak) – eeee, ‘e’s no use to ‘em now, is ‘e? (Lancashire speak).

So to sex up the show they ditched the older female pros and the older female judge. Nicole BOOM, Karen BOOM, Arlene POW. The publicity generated from this was immense – negative, of course, but that’s positive really... right? Flurries of feminists screamed “Ageism! Sexism!” So, this year, it might have been expected that there weren’t to be any cuts but..oh, woah, no no no! They cut the guys too. No sexist now at least. Only one ism to defend. But who are the models gonna dance with now Ian’s been relegated to the DA™? Ian’s darling relationships with his celebs year on year are a delight to behold. But if Jared Murillo wants to get jiggy (in a non Scottish Reel kinda way) with some chick-we-never-heard-of-off-the-telly, well that’s worth more. Isn’t it? And always, always, trying to compete with Mr High Pants on ITV. Alesha Dixon is never going to be in the same league as Cheryl Cole. So take the high ground and stop playing the game by their rules.

But who is to blame for all of this, really? Unfortunately, it’s us (no, no, not just me an’ Frankie – all of us!) We fans all discussed, blogged, tweeted, read the papers about the scandals as much as we did the dancing. The problem is that the rest of the population just discussed the scandals. And they’re the ones with the power. There’s more of them. Clare-from-work has been saying for years that Strictly isn’t the show it used to be. She’s certainly right. But would it be right to go backwards, back to series one, would it not seem...stale? Tu vuò fà l'americano? Maybe we just don’t want to admit that we do.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t want Lilia back. And Brian. And Karen...and...and...and...