As ever at this time of year, my attention is taken up with Strictly, which is why I’ve been taken slightly by surprise by the outburst around X Factor. I have no strong feelings about whether or not Laura should have gone, and I do understand that people will feel aggrieved when their favourite goes, but get a grip! This has never been about the music, it’s about finding acts who will make money for Simon Cowell. This is why I think the wee lad from here will do well – he’s not the strongest singer, but he’s extremely marketable. And what have we had the past week? A lot of buck eejits who reckon they can get an elimination overturned if they shout loud enough. Not to mention Andy Burnham and George Osborne, both of whom surely have better things to do, sticking their oar in. I suppose we must be thankful that Mr Tony Blair has left office, or he surely would have had something to say on the matter.
So, back to Strictly, and I have to say the quality this year is excellent, and made a little more exciting by there being no obvious favourite. Of course I have to support local girl Christine Bleakley, who used to live just up the road from me, but I’m actually quite taken with Lisa Snowdon, who’s quite funny and seems very down to earth. But that isn’t what everybody’s talking about. What everybody’s talking about is the Sarge.
Every year something like this happens. Every year there’s a contestant who’s a hopeless dancer, but the public like them and keep voting them back in. The nastier the judges get, the more the public rally to their favourite. And that just pisses the judges off even more. Last year it was Kate Garraway; this year it’s John Sergeant.
Usually it doesn’t matter, because in the early weeks we’re clearing out the dead wood and by about week five common sense sets in. And yet, we’re now in the last half of the contest and the Sarge is still there. This is thanks to all those people who think it’s funny to keep him in there, and there’s been quite a bit of populist outrage on the message boards. It’s an entertainment show, we hear, and the Sarge entertains us. And who are these judges, anyway, to tell us to vote out the bad dancers?
Thing is, you can get away with this in the early stages. Actually it’s become a bit of a tradition on the show. But we’re past that now. We’ve reached the point where Len Goodman, who never scores below a five, is breaking out the fours. There is a real danger that the Help the Aged vote, combined with the ironic students’ vote, will combine to put out a really good dancer. Seriously, last week Rachel Stevens puts in a belting performance, gets a score of 35 and still finds herself in the bottom two. I know it’s only light entertainment, but come on. Do you want to make a mockery of the entire proceedings?
By the way, and to end on a less negative note, I’m impressed with the Sarge’s partner Kristina, who’s put a very brave face on things. This had better stand her in good stead when they’re allocating the partners next year.