Strictly Come Dancing: Don't you DARE quit, Ed Balls!


Twitter users need to understand it’s not all about them

Strictly gets what, 10 million viewers? And you know what, they’re not all on Twitter. So when the media start banging on about how outraged fans are that Ed Balls is still in the competition, remember that these are a tiny, vociferous minority - the audience has voted to keep him in.

One of the main tweets I see is that “it’s a dancing competition so bad dancers should go”. But this goes against the whole reason for the show’s being: To serve up light entertainment based around the old Come Dancing show, that caters for a wide ranging demographic and - this is the important part - gets people out of their armchairs and dancing. There’s been an upsurge of people taking dance classes since Strictly came onto our screens, because it showed that no matter what your age and ability is, dancing is for you.

Come Dancing itself got canned in the end because nobody was watching - much like the awesome So You Think You Can Dance, a programme so chock full of talented dancers the judges were genuinely challenged. But it never gained the audience Strictly has and it too, was canned. Where were all these Twitterers then, when they had a TV dance competition full of ‘proper’ dancers?

I never start watching the show fixated on one particular contestant - I voted for six dancers the first week, but gradually, some contestants resonate with me more than others. Thus, my favourite is Danny, but I also loved Greg and Natalie. And Ed and Katya’s dances I’ve probably replayed more than any others - his quickstep was a delight and Gangnam Style was TV Gold.

But, I don’t want to watch a show full of Dannys and neither do I want a watch a show full of Eds. The format works because we see great performances from confident, naturally talented (sometimes trained) dancers but we also see people massively out of their comfort zone going on a journey to learn to dance, often surprising themselves - and us - in the process.

The Blackpool show was marred by the crazy scoring which ultimately affected who wound up in the bottom two. For me, Claudia was a given, since her jive - to pretty much everyone apart from the judges and her fans - was extremely poor. Mistakes that she never recovered from, unsteady and lacking in technique and fluidity. A few sharp kicks does not a jive make - most of it was lacklustre and heavy. How the judges scored it 36 is beyond me - a 7 tops, is all I could have given it.

Danny and Oti’s charleston - by far the best dance of the evening - had to get a full house of 10s, after the scores given to Ore and Louise. It did deserve it - a class apart, with brilliantly danced content and wow factor - e.g. the joint one handed cartwheel.

Ore’s VW might have been technically proficient in the footwork and been a charismatic performance but there was a complete lack of movement around the floor, too much faffing about out of hold, it was a bit skippy in places and that fleckerl - I thought they must have forgotten where they were going next, it went on so long. Boring, frankly. An 8 from me, max.

And they are still not giving Ed the credit he deserves. Bruno’s disparaging “To my surprise, most of it looked like a jive” totally wound me up because it was absolutely a competent jive - plenty of recognizable jive content, fluid, personality, great timing, no mistakes, fun. He should have scored at least 28. If you were wondering, assiduous means with great care and thoroughness - and worth way more than a 4, Craig.

Louise earned her score, in context of the others - a dramatic Game of Thrones-esque Paso well worth a 9, while Greg delivered a very good quickstep, just fluffing his leap but deserving the 8s. The Judge’s salsa, although not as fluid as it could have been, brought plenty of oomph and hip action - I’d have had him level with Greg.

And there is my problem: had the leaderboard reflected how the dances were performed on the night, I don’t think we’d have seen Greg in the dance off. I find that very unfair.

I hope, when Len is replaced, it’s with a judge who will comment and score on what they actually see in front of them, and not what they expect to see depending on the fitness, age, beauty and previous form of the contestant.

As far as the dance off is concerned, Claudia marginally improved and Greg fluffed his hand jive moment and still didn’t nail the leap, so it was even stevens; you won’t hear me complaining, much as I’d have loved Greg to stay over Claudia.

I was very picky on Saturday night and I shouldn’t be - I don’t expect the contestants to be perfect. I do, however, expect the judges to score fairly, because all of the dancers, especially those at the bottom of the leaderboard, deserve the chance to stay and improve. It isn’t a God-given right for the perceived ‘best’ dancers to stay in regardless of how they perform.

If the judges persist with this strategy, Ed and Katya will likely be getting underdog votes from me from here on in. So there, haters / judges / media - shove that notion where the sun doesn’t shine. Because I bet I won’t be the only one.

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