Saturday, 8 October 2011

Fix those grins dancers; order more sequins seamstresses; dust off that old joke book Bruce: it's Strictly Come Dancing!

Beginning another run of enforced on-screen partnerships of varying unease and enough sequins to blow an old cathode ray tube tv from here to oblivion, it is clear that the return of Strictly Come Dancing is, on balance, something to be celebrated - if not by its fixed-grin participants then certainly by its audience.

And that's especially if you like to watch a bit dancing - even though the dancing feels a bit secondary.

That's because of the sheer unashamed 'showbusinessness' of the whole affair: as if the glitterballs have glitterballs.

But compare it to the booming, arena-tour style of the slick and emotionally overwrought X Factor, and Strictly looks tame in comparison.

On Strictly, the best drama you get might be a few cross words here and there between 'celebrity' and professional dancers in the 'training' footage, as well as tabloid tales of sabotaged dresses and Jason Donovan putting in enormous effort learning to dance after never bothering with it as a 1980s popstar.

But the show's doing something right, judging by its millions of fans and the secret career-reviving thoughts presumably entertained by some of the celebrities taking part - perhaps Edwina Currie's already got a steamy rompy novel lined up for release straight after, as a cash-in.

But perhaps best of all are the celeb spots in the audience - look out for them grimacing in lightning-quick reaction shots to Bruce's gags.

It's like a game of spot-the-celebrity against the clock - you've got only seconds to place the face, and achieve a positive identity.

Thrills of ever-changing note come from spotting who's clapping. Ooh look, it's those two from McFly and a pink boa! John Prescott not covered in egg! (but with a lipstick mark on his cheek!) Mel Giedroyc from Mel and Sue and, er, The Wright Stuff, and other things like that, applauding while wearing a pink feather boa too!

And is that Tim Henman? No it's a chair!

But one of the largest amounts of fun, aside from the dancing, comes from the live band - churning out song after song across all known musical genres, and sometimes getting it right, and sometimes getting it not so right.

Who'd ever thought they'd hear a live band rendition of Higher by Taio Cruz? Especially not as Chelsea from Waterloo Road hurls herself around the studio in a way later unconvincingly described as 'fun, flirty and fearless' by judge Alesha Dixon.

Tv-ooh's life is complete.*

*It's not. It's not complete. But Strictly is a bit of laugh.

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