A TV executive’s ultimate fantasy is coming up with an original idea. In the inventive mind of many of these corporate suits, this involves mashing up two existing hit programmes with results that are often as appealing as Schindler’s List on Ice.
This year, one of the BBC’s creative brains dreamed up the ultimate celebrity hybrid. In the name of social distancing, it looked like the Strictly cast were going to have to isolate together in a hotel for the 13-week duration of the series.
It was shaping up to be a fabulously sparkling Frankenstein monster: Strictly meets Love Island.
Then, someone who wanted to keep their job at the Corporation ruined it all by abandoning that plan, so they’ve apparently opted for Covid couple-bubbles instead.
For the celebrities and dancers in mutually happy relationships, these lockdown conditions will make no difference whatsoever but, for the rest of those taking part, this autumn’s national obsession is going to be the best ever. Trust me. As an ex-ballroom alumni, I know what I’m talking about.
I wont be cheering on wife-swapping or cheating. But then I am entirely confident that the Strictly experience has zero impact on people in good relationships.
Healthy marriages aren’t permanently threatened when one partner is excelling and discovering themselves; in fact, they thrive.
The hours of practice are intense and transformative, and like any life-enhancing experience, will expose flaws in relationships that were fragile in the first place. But at the end of recording, supportive life-partners are there to share in the exuberance of high scores or pick up the pieces after a ballroom catastrophe.
We can all point to couples who broke up after the lights went off on the series, but in practically all those cases, the show was a symptom not the cause of their painful demise.
Although the so-called Strictly curse may be a tabloid creation, I would be telling serious porkies if I didn’t admit that the bond between dance teacher and student set against overwhelming public scrutiny forges a uniquely special relationship.
Throw in constant bumping, grinding and an adoring smile and it’s easy to assume that you’re falling in love.
Throw in dancefloor bumping and grinding and it’s easy to assume you’re falling in love
This obviously wasn’t the case with me and my dance partner Oksana, who lacked a fundamental attribute for me to experience any semi-serious arousal: she didn’t like reading.
When I tried to show her where Karl Marx was buried and she asked what kind of singer he had been, I realised my chatter about Pushkin had been tolerated rather than admired. But, despite us having nothing in common (except both fancying her husband), I still utterly adored her.
The reverence that celebrities commonly feel towards their dance partners is totally unsurprising.
The best kept secret about the programme is that the professionals do practically all of the hard work. Not only are they choreographing and teaching, they are often left picking up the emotional pieces of their celebrity’s ego left smashed on the dance floor.
Millions of us watch not just for the sequined escapism, we want to see the chemistry between the professionals and unattached celebrities blossom.
Whatever safety measures are in place to keep the show on the road I, for one, am counting down the seconds to what promises to be the most incandescent Strictly ever. Bravo to the BBC for realising that, with a little Covid safety planning, Strictly is exactly what the nation needs to get through winter 2020.
It is joy distilled and the antidote to well… everything.