Strictly Come Dancing: The joy of Ed Balls and Gangnam Style


Ed Balls broke the internet with his performance of Gangnam Style on Saturday night.

After a week in which world politics was turned upside down, we needed some light relief. As Len said, just the anticipation of Ed and Katya doing Gangnam Style was enough to give us a lift.

1 minute 47 seconds after Ed and Katya took to the floor, the world seemed a much better place. Their Gangnam Style was TV Gold, and in prime spot for TV moment of the year.

Ed might not have got the hip action right, but there was excellent armography, his timing and musicality are better than many we’ve had on the show - and those lifts were fantastic (and you know how I hate lifts) - he nailed them completely. In fact, the round-the-houses lift was cleaner than Tom and Camilla’s in their showdance. The judges don’t give him enough credit for the things he does well, the things that make him so watchable. Look at the height on the jump in that image above - you can’t achieve that unless you’re totally committed. Undermarked again.

And please bear in mind, he and Katya didn’t choose a song so out of the salsa character - they had to go with the original choreography and smashed it.

I feel sorry for those, like Sir Alan Sugar, for example, and the handful of other people on Twitter (compared to the hundreds of thousands, probably millions, who loved it) who were outraged. Is there really so little joy in their lives they can’t appreciate the fun? That they can’t see what the rest of us are seeing? That they can’t feel what the rest of us are feeling? Because that’s what it is - it’s emotion. Being unable to stop yourself from smiling or laughing and feeling your heart soar at the sight of someone so clearly loving what they’re doing and pouring their spirit, body, heart and soul into it.

“Great dancers aren’t great because of their technique, they’re great because of their passion” - Martha Graham, dance pioneer.

Your average Strictly viewer doesn’t care who the contestants are or where they came from. And they’d rather watch someone throw themselves into it than someone who merely puts their feet in the right place (which Ed does anyway). It’s what gave Darren Gough the edge over Zoe and Colin, brilliant as they were.

So if you’re one of those tiny amount of people who isn’t feeling the joy, then do the rest of us a favour - keep off the #Strictly timeline and take your misery to the #xfactor instead.

The dance off this week was always going to be a tight one, and so it proved as Daisy faced Greg. Salsa v Paso Doble, you couldn’t get more different. Daisy’s salsa didn’t contain enough basic for me and needed a lot more attack, whereas the only thing slightly lacking in Greg’s was shaping. It was powerful and he executed Natalie’s brilliant choreography with a lot of style, improving his control in the dance off.


Dance of the night, apart from Ed, was an amazing, intricate, fast and attacking Argentine Tango from Danny and Oti to an unusual mix of I Heard it Through the Grapevine, which turned out to be more effective than I thought it would. The complicated leg work could have gone horribly wrong but thankfully didn’t and was jaw-dropping. 38 points took them to the top of the leaderboard, challenged only by Louise and Kevin’s razzly dazzly American Smooth.

The Judge and Oksana again delivered a delightfully musical performance in their foxtrot, while Ore and Jo’s rumba was a little stiff to begin with but had beautiful arms and he relaxed into it more as he went along. Claudia and AJ’s VW was gorgeous and romantic.

The Remembrance Day results show is always extra special and this year was even more poignant, as the professionals danced the story of Basil and Madge, who met in 1944 while serving in the armed forces.

From Natalie and Brendan floating around to Andre Rieu’s orchestral version of Hallelujah to Ed and Katya winning the night (I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gangnam Style back in the charts), this weekend’s Strictly had everything.

Blackpool next week and if Ed pulls something special out again - he’s jiving to Great Balls of Fire - there’s no reason he can’t make it to Week 10.

Want to chat TV? Find me @Scattyjan on Twitter.