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Strictly meets the Wizard of Woz

skip the light fandango - seasick across the floor

skip the light fandango - seasick across the floor

Strictly Come Dancing 5 – BBC 3rd October

Strictly and the Wizard of Woz. Alesha Dixon to Joe Calzhage: “I’m impressed by how strong you woz for Kris”. There is no way an intelligent, accomplished, successful woman, and Alesha is all three, speaks so badly and lazily on national TV because she doesn’t know any better. Does it matter? Yes: well at least as much as how many pointless points she awards a professional boxer in a sequinned Lonsdale Belt self-mockingly plodding his way through an excruciatingly bad Paso Doble. This patronising nonsense isn’t street cred; it’s taking the p*ss out of the very people who admire you enough to make you rich.

If Strictly gets any longer they’ll have to introduce an interval so we can get some food and Brucie can take on some oxygen. That said there were much to admire and most of the dancers woz great.

The ‘rise’ on (gentle)mens’ trousers is the distance from crotch to waistband: or to put it anatomically – from wobbly bits to waist. The BBC’s costume department seem to have redefined the inside-leg measurement that defines this parameter as they persist in dressing the guys in trousers that appear to be looped around the ears rather than draped around the waist. Not since Simon Cowell’s Mum failed to show him where to fix a belt have so many guys looked so ill at ease and nerdy on TV: like boys in the not so distant past who entered secondary school resplendent in their first ever pair of long trousers that mums’ in their wisdom bought three sizes too large to allow for ‘growth’. Don’t even think about it – those were innocent, if cruel days.

The other mystery is the colour conundrum. In an unguarded moment I asked my two home-grown Art teacher specialists, colour co-ordinators and Colour-Wheel consultants why Brucie’s jacket and Tess’s dress could both look black while the guys’ tails looked the colour of polished horse manure. Like carefully constructing a question in my faltering French to a Parisian, the condescension in the reply was palpable and incomprehensible: something about non-reflective material and picking out the red parts of the spectrum.

Tess’s dress posed other dilemmas: looking like a coal scuttle converted into a plant-holder she wriggled her way through the show as if she’d done a ‘Lynda’ and stuck both legs through one side of her knickers. But then a garment you can hardly walk, talk or sit down in poses challenges of anatomical hydrodynamics best left on Planet Woman. For a short while I wondered whether they’d put poor ‘Take-1’ in the same dress twice. Liked the hair though.

Come on admit it: like us you are all sitting there now making observations like – “that shoulder’s too low”, “her core’s too loose”, “it’s all in the hold”, “no, no – lead with your heel not your toe – dummy.” We’re all judges now – guessing what paddle Craig and Co will hold up. Try it as a drinking game: pick a judge and if you don’t guess their vote correctly – down in one. If you aren’t much good at this, you’ll have the benefit of thinking the choice of the great British public on who should be in the dance-off makes some kind of rational sense. Or maybe that is the sense: all the viewers are legless by the time they vote. I have yet to meet anyone who actually admits that they vote. This year’s fun Christmas present should be the Strictly Come Dancing judge’s kit – a pack of recycled beach bats or remaindered canoe paddles, a few sequinned bin bags (cut your own holes to fit), a bag of self-adhesive mixed sequins, a couple of wire coat-hangers to be turned into earrings and a Primary school grammar book.

High spot of this week for me was when Craig, having complimented Joe on a performance so improved as to be marginally this side of well – dead; looked genuinely ready to leg it as Momma Calzhage got out of her chair apparently bent on demonstrating where baby Joe got his killer right hook from. Craigie’s smile a tad forced I thought: a bit like a rabbit caught in the headlights of a runaway beer truck. Guinness not Miller Light.

The patronising of both ‘Jo(e)’s’ continues apace and obviously works, as the implacably sentimental British public keeps saving both and refusing to participate in the same programme as Lenny-G and Co. Tuffers by the same logic, after heroic knee surgery this week, will be free to moon the audience, fall over as often as he likes and leave his core on a hook in his dressing room next week – no one will vote him off.

The battle of the Ricky’s develops with the Jet’s talent being upstaged by the welcome if unexpected growth in tricky Ricky’s showmanship. Lenny G’s thrill at something “right up my Ali” is I’m sure encouraging for her though does make one wonder whether Len thinks a double-entendre is a tricky manoeuvre in the Slow Fox Trot. We may not really know much more about the art of dancing but we are getting pretty knowledgeable about the Judges’ prejudices: Len for example hates capes in the Paso, sex and passion anywhere but the bedroom, and finger clicks anywhere at all. Craig remains however the king of the mystifying metaphor and snidey simile: Lynda apparently needing more movement having looked like a “stunned mullet” – whether fish or hair-cut he didn’t clarify: and tricky Ricky having hands like “ice-cream scoops”. Meanwhile Bruno should immediately be signed for BBC Radio 4’s Just A Minute for too long now missing the late Kenneth Williams. Talking of Kenneth Williams is it only me or does Lynda Bellingham look like him when she does her astonished open-mouth thing? Great ‘John Sargent drag’ in her Paso this week I thought but she and Nathalie really have to tip the BBC hairdressers or they’ll keep taking the Mick. I’m also getting a bit distracted by Chris Hollins looking like Ernie Wise and Jo Wood having a Wallace, of Grommit fame, smile.

Lots of hints and innuendo about extra-terpsichorean activity this week. There is such an undertow of sexual ambiguity about the whole show that it becomes a matter of delicate sensibility and good manners to refrain from wondering who does or would want to do what with whom and when or where. Perhaps, like most of the committed members of the Labour party after this week, I will have to deny myself the opportunity to keep up with this side-bar of probably carefully manufactured scandal. Mind you with the BBC’s increasing passion for self-advertisement and cross marketing, the most salacious stuff will no doubt find its way on to News 24.

So poor old Rav carries his orang-utan arms (Craig – the description not the arms) off into the sunset: a victim at least as much of Alioli’s daftly inappropriate, selfish choreography as his own pretty transparent limitations. Lynda, Nathalie, Jo-Joe and Craig look like the escapees of the week. Down to 13 next week: still my racing heart.

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