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Strictly Come Dancing Sat/Sun 8th/9th November – Carry On Sergeant

here is the news

here is the news

Strictly Come Dancing – Saturday 8th/Sunday 9th November

Carry On Sergeant in 1958 was the first of 29 Carry On films ending in 1988. A revival in 1992 Carry On Columbus, proved what we already knew – that the idea, the franchise, the fun, was way past its sell-by date. Virtually the same joke again and again finally exhausted even the smut-addicted British public’s almost infinite appetite for the repetitive, the familiar and the groan-worthy.

Two kinds of people the British hate more than anything – know-alls and show-offs. The weirdly likeable panel of Strictly are archetypal know-alls and Bruno gets a show-off award too. It goes without saying that a large chunk of the public see all the guy dancers, professional and celebrity, as show-offs; a genuinely shared reaction to the women dancers is that curious mix of muted British male lust, implacably analytical feminine appraisal of dresses, boobs or bums; and a genuine admiration by all for the celebs and pros grace, elegance and gutsy determination to improve and never give up. And we guys are astonished and disappointed in equal measure every week that the occasional errant boob does not pop out of the palpably inadequate slithers of sparkly cloth entrusted with the seemingly impossible task of containing them. It’s a mystery.

Finally, there is nothing the wonderful, and I mean that, British public love to do more than to deflate the pompous, lionise ludicrous heroes, screw with authority, and frankly f**k up the best laid plans of anyone who makes the fundamental existential error of believing the events in our world can be planned, controlled and brought to a guaranteed successful conclusion. (Olympics – watch out!). It’s the Swiss not the Brits, that make precise timepieces; and the Germans who make things work to plan. Both qualities set our national teeth on edge. As one-time warriors with no instinct for peaceful pastimes, we are at turns bolshy, sentimental, and gleefully anarchistic. We like to be led but hate to be governed. We rightly laugh at conspiracies, a deeply insightful instinct telling us of course they are always cock-ups, usually perpetrated by know-alls and show-offs.

It is into this frustrating, predictably unpredictable bear pit of a nation that the strange entertainment cocktail that is Strictly Come Dancing with its sequinned, glitzy, impossible buttock-wriggling, toe-twiddling seriousness is pinkly pitched – and the natives are restless. Even Brucie’s ‘jokes’ and catch-phrases are so predictably awful we laugh at ourselves for laughing at them.

John Sergeant is the Eddie The Eagle of ballroom dancing. Eddie you will remember was the much-loved, cataclysmically incompetent British ski-jumper whose nerve-rackingly heart-stopping, but hilariously determined efforts at launching himself 60 feet or so into space off a 1 in 2 runway with all the grace of a pregnant ostrich in over-sized wellies, was surpassed only by the one time in Newtonian physics when it seemed possible that not everything that goes up must come down.

Our new slim-line John, once on the dance floor, moves with the light-footed insouciance of Frank Bruno in a tutu, wearing a beatifically detached smile not seen since Benny Hill stopped fondling bevies of beauties on his variety show. And we’ve loved every minute of it – this pleasure multiplied ten-fold by the incandescent fury of Strictly’s Politburo Gang Of Four judges at our perversely saving him every week to keep him out of the dance-off and therefore preventing them from frog-marching him (literally) to the door and dance-pumping his backside into the street.

John is the realistic downside of the old fairy tale: no he ain’t secretly a swan – he really is an ugly duckling and as the judges never fail to point out – moves just like one. But he’s our ugly duckling, he represents every one of us with two left feet, the dress sense of Worzel Gummidge and body-shapes redolent of weebles. If John can do it – we can do it! In fact if John can do it – Eddie The Eagle could probably win a medal.

Ilie Nastase once remarked of Bjorn Borg’s heyday supremacy at tennis: “we’re all playing tennis – I don’t know what he’s playing.” John’s dancing reveals the obverse principle. This week as if signalling to the public – enough’s enough, the joke’s gone stale, he simply walked at times with his wonderfully game and patient Kristina, mouthing instructions to him as she again tried desperately to distract attention from his ambling Sid Rumbold cha cha cha.

And then, as we always do, we didn’t know when to stop. We took the joke beyond the punch-line, the sketch beyond the pay-off; instead of letting John retire gracefully and about 4 weeks late, we went for another laugh next week. But I think this time the general goodwill dissipated. Heather isn’t great but what she has been doing each week, unlike John, does amount to dancing and she’s worked hard and successfully to get better.

The great thing about Strictly is the good will and good humour within the show. And this year it has never been better with an apparently bonded group of competitors united in their mutual support against the querulous, quarrelsome quartet. John squeezing out Heather risks this a bit. Yes it’s in the rules but unless we all come to our senses we’ll kill the joke and the programme.

So come on John we all like you; you’ve been a delight, but for God’s sake find some way to bow out gracefully before you snaffle a place from a real dancer. Although we Brits instinctively can’t take ballroom dancing, really seriously, however hard we try, unless it is a real competition, with real challenges to meet, then it’s going to look like Carry On Strictly Come Dancing. And there are no laughs left in that. The joke, like the franchise, is now past its sell-by date.

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