We were out for most of the day yesterday. But most of the day clearly wasn’t enough, because when we got back Strictly Come Dancing was still on, and that was a shame. Wifey has been typically consumed by it this year, but has been accommodating enough to watch it on catch-up and usually only when I am out, or doing something else at the very furthest point in our house from the living room. As a result I have been fortunate enough to avoid almost all of it and it has confirmed to me that if there is anything at the top of my list of ‘things I have next to no time for’ then Strictly Come Dancing could well be it. Nothing on this planet could be quite as inconsequential, and yet it is devoured by armies of ravenous fans; most of whom, I imagine, can barely get off the sofa, let alone dance to the fridge.
Strictly Come Dancing must come closer to almost anything on TV to broadcasting Marmite. You either love it or you can’t. I don’t often hear of people just dipping in once in a while. No-one says “oh, I reckon I must have watched at least half of it this year”. You’re either in or you’re out. You can either think of nothing better to fill your time, or you have doused yourself in lighter fluid and are playing with matches, in the safe assumption that whatever might happen next will still be more fun than sitting through an entire episode. And let’s not forget that an entire episode is a long time to be on fire. They are pretty much as long as an average film (were they always that bloated?) and to spend that much time every week listening to Tess and Claudia and that repetitive squonk of awful horns whilst watching multitudes of muscle and teeth being chased around a big room by fireworks must surely make you more likely to develop dementia later in life. Just think of what you’re doing to yourself; filling your brain with tired cliché, glitter and fake tan. Yuk.
I know that it all means well and it is just entertainment, but that doesn’t lift it far above what it really is, which isn’t much at all. You have to remember that Strictly is so lightweight and free of much at all that matters that Sir Bruce Forsyth, high priest of lightweight, used to present it. Rest in peace, Brucie. And yet someone had the daft notion that we could use Strictly to educate the nation and be a barometer for social justice and moral strength. I mean, if it hadn’t been for the inescapable publicity this year I would never have realised that men could dance with each other. Who knew? I had also been labouring under the dated view that the ballroom dance floor really wasn’t the place for the deaf, and yet here comes: Strictly, ripping up the rule book and saying “you know what – the deaf can dance!”. Well of course they can! Why wouldn’t they? And as for those same sex dancers, well what a revelation – I simply cannot imagine something as bizarre as two men dancing. You wouldn’t have had that kind of nonsense at Studio 54. Thanks Strictly, for opening my eyes. But will it educate those viewers out there who feel compelled to simply leave the room or throw a brick at the TV when behaviour like men dancing together muddies up their living room and their fudgied grey matter? I doubt it, and that is sad. Even then, Strictly isn’t the solution.
So it turned out the deaf lady won, and I can only hope it was for her dancing. It was on for well over an hour last night and despite sellotaping several cigarettes together I still couldn’t manufacture a fag break long enough to avoid it. I think I managed to tick off every box: the desperate smiles, the over-emotion commotion, the life changing opportunity, the calves, the omni-dreadful covers band. Oddly enough the dancing took up the least time – they should really rename it Strictly Not Strictly Dancing. Every time the wait was over we had to wait a bit more, and in between the huge gulfs of time where clearly nothing was going to happen we were treated to a few stories and journeys and third rate celebrities remembering about finding out something about themselves. Through the gift of dance. Oh well, I’m glad it makes people happy and I’m sorry I’m in such a foul mood about Strictly Come Dancing; it just seems to have been on all year and I’m starting to question whether it’s only me that finds it all too slender; that I’m the only person who thinks it’s just a little bit worse than a little bit shit. But hey, what do I know? I can’t dance anyway.
G B Hewitt. 19.12.2012