Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Another slap in face to Strictly fans from BBC

Now, before you say anything, don't say I can't handle change. As a leftie peace loving Lib Dem hippy, I am coping better than I ever thought I would with coalition with the Great Blue Devil.

That doesn't mean to say that all change is good change. The BBC seem to be hell bent on ruining one of my favourite tv programmes, Strictly Come Dancing. After dumping the excellent Arlene Phillips as a judge last year and replacing her with someone half her age whose entire dance experience had been as a contestant on the show two years previously, they are now sidelining Strictly fans' favourite professional dancers leading to the departure of one of my favourites.

Just about the only saving grace is that the much loved Anton du Beke is safe otherwise Rachel Williams and I would be chaining ourselves to something at TV Centre.

Rather than mentoring celebrities, and therefore being a real part of the show, favourite dancers Ian Waite, Lilia Kopylova, Matthew Cutler, Brian Fortuna and Darren Bennett were offered places in a "professional dance troupe". That is rubbish. Generally once a celebrity has left the show, their dance partner takes part in the Saturday night show dances but is often never heard from again for the series. Sure, some of the lucky ones appear on It Takes Two, the fantastic nightly spin off show presented by Claudia Winkleman, but it's not the same.

Let's look at the record of the people they've put out to grass in favour of bringing in 3 new male dancers:

Lilia Kopylova - this is the woman who took sequin hating cricketer Darren Gough from his first uncomfortable cha cha cha to winning the series in 2005. The previous year she'd done wonders with Aled Jones. She is incredibly funny and an excellent dancer and teacher.

Darren Bennett is Lilia's husband and he won the first main series in 2004 with Jill Halfpenny. This is as good an excuse as any to show them doing their Jive which is one of the best dances ever seen on Strictly.

He's also been a fantastic mentor to the likes of Emma Bunton, Letitia Dean and Lynda Bellingham.

Ian Waite took Zoe Ball, Jodie Kidd and Jade Johnson, all of whom had various hang ups about dance, and not only transformed them into dancers, but really inspired them to enjoy what they were doing too. I only ever saw him have one snippy moment with a celebrity - a barney with Denise Lewis in series 2.

There is no excuse whatever for taking Matthew Cutler out of the main show. If I were going on Strictly, he would be the pro I would hope I'd get. He's lovely, patient, kind and to my knowledge has never ever thrown a strop with his celebrity. He and Alesha Dixon were fabulous together when they won in 2007 and Carol Smillie and Christine Bleakley have also benefitted from his sweet, affirming and lovely style of teaching.

All of the above is bad enough, but Brian Fortuna, who made up Team Awesome with Ali Bastian last year has decided he doesn't want to be part of the "Professional Dance Troupe" and has quit the show. He was great - not only was he a gifted teacher, to both Heather Small and Ali, but he also kept in touch with his fans regularly via Twitter and Facebook.

It seems to me that none of these dancers were going to give the viewers much in the way of rows with their celebrity partners - these are the ones who took the teaching part most seriousy and professionally. On the men's side, we are left with the likes of James, who has mellowed in recent years, but in his first series was vile to his partner, actress Georgina Bouzova, Brendan, who can be mercurial, Vincent, who's very funny but who has an ego the size of Jupiter and Anton, who is very funny and charming and who absolutely puts his foot in it at times, but if we're being honest, sucks at Latin. I'm not sure what the new male professionals will be like but they don't seem to have a whole load of teaching experience.

So, female celebrities, it's down to you. You can save this yet. Just refuse to sign your contracts unless our favourite dancers are brought back - simples. They can't do a show with no women on it at all..........


Kate said...

"They can't do a show with no women on it"? Please. Have you *seen* TV?

Jennie said...

Kate beat me to it. Of course they can!

Sarah said...

The been obviously have big plans for Strictly but don't want to introduce them all in one go. They possibly involve cheaper dancers. Lilia, Darren, Ian, etc have been in since the beginning (almost) and are probably on high wages. Anton is contracted to the beeb (Bring on the Wall!) so he'll be there until he decides to quit.
I'll be sad if other dancers quit after this announcement, but then, Camilla and Karen weren't there last year and we all coped.

Caron said...

Kate and Jennie - they can't really have Strictly with all male contestants. There would be an outcry and the BBC would look very stupid.

Sarah - they seem to have announced all this a bit earlier than last year. I've seen the dancers be well into July and still not have their contracts.

The US pro dancers were only told the week before they met their celebs whether they were on the show or not, which is not a good way to treat people.

Yes, we coped without Camilla and Karen but I really missed them - and to take a fair proprtion of the fans' favourite dancers out in one go is a bit mean.

The US series has had a few changes in format and dance style, which have been good and I'd have liked the BBC introduce more dances like the Charleston and Lindyhop from last year rather than muck about with the lineup.

Phil said...

Can't understand why they changed something that was working so well.

Is this another example of an unholy LibDem - Conversative alliance? Yes, I'm afraid so...!


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