For the better part of two decades, Strictly Come Dancing has sashayed onto our screens every autumn, bringing with it more sequins, innuendos and marriage breakdowns than you can shake a stick at.
This week, 11 names were confirmed for the new series, including former Arsenal and England player Tony Adams, gold medal-winning Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds, actor and presenter Kym Marsh, and comedians Ellie Taylor and Jayde Adams.
But despite the weeks and weeks’ worth of promised glitz and glam, to me it is nothing but a dirge; an outdated relic that embodies an era of television we’re better off forgetting. This feeling is just compounded by the amateur musicians, singing off-key renditions of the Dirty Dancing soundtrack and “Monster Mash” every Halloween special, making it feel more like a school disco or wedding reception than a high-budget production.
Of course, I understand that for many Saturday nights, gathered around a TV screen, eating takeaways from laps, are sacred; a weekly ritual shared with family. I, too, once relished these moments as a teen (when I wasn’t desperately bored and frantically texting my friends for a way out, that is).
The last time I properly watched Strictly was back in 2011. Having grown up adoring McFly, I tuned in religiously to see drummer Harry Judd do everything from the cha-cha-cha to the rumba. The naffness was not lost on me even then, but my view was blinkered and my parents’ phone bill from the endless stream of votes was hefty. I celebrated his victory as if he were my firstborn at sports day.
And although I haven’t watched a full series of the reality show since, whenever I have caught a glimpse on my mum’s TV during my visits home, it seems like very little has changed in the format since it launched in 2004. The only discernible difference is the lack of Bruce Forsyth.
Perhaps that’s why it is so enduringly popular? People love a bit of nostalgia, after all. But now that there’s so much choice at our fingertips, the idea of being forced by the BBC (and ITV, for that matter) to watch glorified talent shows once the weather turns seems more restrictive and quaint than ever before.
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I have nothing against dancing and, actually, it was pretty forward-thinking of the Beeb to introduce such a camp show to mainstream TV when it did. But the whole thing feels tired and worn out, much like Blackpool’s promenade and once-celebrated ballroom where the final used to be hosted.
Due to the lacklustre format, the only drama and excitement that can be found is if someone trips, has a scandalous affair and proves the “Strictly curse” is very much a thing, or during the absurdly chaotic live performances from artists, as they’re surrounded by professional dancers doing the jive.
Worse still is all the supplementary tosh. As if the hours-long live shows weren’t enough, we have to endure all the waffle that goes along with it. Why do we need extra analysis on the dances we saw moments before, pray tell? And the green room chit chat? I couldn’t think of a better example of filler TV if I tried.