A Word In Your Ear - September 13, 2018

Roy Edmonds
Roy Edmonds
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Strictly sterile and saccharine

All that glitters is not gold and that’s certainly true today when so much is false. What dazzles us most, it seems, is a mix of celebrity and glamour propped up, of course, by wealth.

These are the ingredients making Strictly Come Dancing such a hit for the BBC. It was always top viewing at Edmonds Towers but, of late, has waned in appeal.

On Saturday we watched the preview for this winter’s glitzy series and, well, were sadly disappointed. Who were these ‘celebrities’ anyway? There were no truly household names, famous politicians, sporting legends or top-billing entertainers – emerging from their comfort zones to tackle ballroom dancing in front of millions.

Then there’s the superficial glamour. We don’t mind sequins, they’re fun, but this lavish show was produced Hollywood-style. Film cameras glossed over any imperfections and air-brushed out all wrinkles, unlike those unforgiving high-definition television lenses usually employed. Whitened teeth dazzled like toothpaste adverts while waxed, spray-tanned torsos flashed in the strobe lighting - as professional dancers met contestants and embraced in over-the-top, theatrical jubilation.

The once inspired show formula all started going downhill when producers began interfering and ‘glamming up’ the excellent mix of experienced and opinionated judges. Arlene Phillips was axed and we missed her sharper edge; then chief judge Len Goodman retired to “pickle his walnuts” in Cockney-land, probably tiring of everything now going so smoothly. Soon, I fear, judges will be as tame and politically correct as those in the anodyne American version of this worldwide hit.

Besides, what will they now really have to judge? Most contestants were young or, at least, fit and agile, while also obviously taught dance at stage schools. It all seemed as plastic as that tatty Glitterball Trophy.

Let’s just hope the Beeb still brings the show up north to Blackpool’s Golden-Mile Tower, where real life still shines.