Strictly Come Balls

Strictly Come Dancing is classed by the BBC as an entertainment show. Strictly Come Dancing, or ‘Strictly’, as avid middle-aged mums-of-three like to abbreviate it, is many things, but entertaining isn’t one of them. Not for the most part anyway. As far as I can tell, the only thing ‘Strictly’ about ‘Come Dancing’ is that it’s strictly bland, repetitive and disinteresting — until Ed Balls comes on.

When watching Strictly Come Dancing, it’s hard to remember that it’s a competition. This is largely due to the ridiculously high scores that judges give for dances that often are little above mediocre and nothing out of the ordinary. The audience will see tens doled out to contestants like tissues at a funeral. ‘Strictly’ speaking, I don’t think a ten from Bruno is quite as valuable as a tissue. A scantily clad athlete prancing around with a professional taking the lead in an oversexualised tango? It’s a ten from Bruno. A jive with funky music, costumes covered in diamantes that could trigger epilepsy and a forced jump-lift? It’s a ten from Bruno. A gypsy wiping their arse with the sheet music from a twenty-first century Andrew Lloyd Webber musical? Guess what? It’s a ten from Bruno! Just a side note, the judges’ scores don’t matter anyway because they have nothing to do with which contestants stay on the show — the few sad gits that actually call up and vote get to choose. Although, the judges have to be given some credit since the only mildly entertaining part of the show is still active: yes, I’m talking about Ed Balls.

It’s a shame that the producers of Strictly Come Dancing were so narrow-minded in their choosing of contestants. What us audience really want to see is contestants spending most of their time practising how they can glide across the ballroom floor without falling over. We want to see mistakes. Not petty mistakes like being a few milliseconds out of time or having an insufficiently aerodynamic haircut, but big mistakes — like a tight-arse SNP politician trying to pirouette and ending up doing a 180-degree plunge face-down into the ballroom dancefloor while effing and blinding in a sublime Glaswegian accent as if they’re in a drug-fuelled scene out of Trainspotting. Instead, we get the likes of Judge Rinder mouthing along viciously to whatever unsuitable song happens to be playing, while flexing his leg way above his torso and proving to us all why he’s the campest character on reality TV to date (save Louie Spence). Too many contestants on the show are more than physically adept. We need a wider variety of shapes and sizes. It’s not sufficient to throw in the potato-shaped Ed Balls and a gymnast who also happens to be scientifically classed as a dwarf, only to then fill up spaces with athletes, singers and TV presenters fit enough to be models.

One of the most boring, irrelevant and frankly painful parts of Strictly Come Dancing is the annoying little cutscenes in between each act. The producer who suggested that these snippets of unnecessary trivia would be a good idea needs to be fired immediately. In what world would a two minute clip of a visit to a sweet factory in Blackpool be suitable or relevant in any way, shape or form to the rehearsal of the Viennese Waltz? What’s next? Hiking up the Himalayas in the hunt for a Yeti while practising the Peruvian Foxtrot–Lindy-Hop–Paso-Doble hybrid? Soaring across the sky strapped to an aeroplane while learning a few of the last steps of a John Cleese-style Cha-Cha-Cha? The show has become so ridiculous and arbitrary that the only thing we can all expect is the same old pretentious dances from the athletes and Bruno’s completely uncalled for enthusiasm as he praises anything and everything that offers a glimpse of ‘sexiness’ — as he likes to describe it.

While Strictly Come Dancing used to be a marginally acceptable form of light entertainment for the folk that genuinely have nothing better to do with their Saturday nights, it has become a tedious and shallow rinse-and-repeat waste of time; that maintains its popularity by enlisting one red herring that can be seen stumbling across the stage for a magnificent and entertaining three minutes per week. These are the three minutes that husbands take a break from washing up and pop into the living room to refuel their self-worth and masculinity by watching the humiliation of an ex-politician commit a ballroom atrocity in front of millions, in a desperate attempt to stay relevant and for his own financial gain, before further ridicule by the cynical and unforgiving Craig Revel-Horwood. Strictly Come Dancing? More like Strictly Come Ballsed-It-Up. In this featherweight entertainment masquerade, Elvis left the building before the show even started — he came back for a few minutes though: to watch Ed Balls.

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