Strictly Come Dancing – (BBC1 2017) – A What I’ve Been Watching Review

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I can’t believe that I haven’t written about this ratings dominating titan of Saturday night entertainment before. I’ve certainly been watching it since its arrival on our screens in May 2004.  (Have you seen any clips of that first episode with the judges squashed on a small table with the whole thing looking decidedly low budget compared to what we have become used to now?) When the TV channel Watch screened the US equivalent “Dancing With The Stars” I used to watch that too, despite knowing few of the contestants and it feeling tortuously long.  Because we no longer hear much about that show in the UK I just had a look and have discovered it has been re-commissioned for Season 26.  (It’s aired more often than over there) and that 286 celebrities have taken part so far and that the current cohort includes singer Debbie Gibson and ex child-actor from the lovely “Malcolm In The Middle” Frankie Muniz. There, Len Goodman is still on the judging panel (alongside Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba).  You will also find the new home for UK version ex-dancers Artem Chigvintsev, Gleb Savchenko and Mark Ballas, the son of our new head judge Shirley.  So, there you go, a bit of fact-finding for you!

And onto last night’s Strictly, which was the Movie special, the first of the “big” nights where the BBC pulls out the stops (the others being the Halloween Special and the trip to Blackpool).  We can expect film-themed dances and great things in the costume and make-up departments.  For me, the weak link in last night’s show were some of the costumes.  The Buzz Lightyear outfit didn’t really work and looked like something off the shelf of a backstreet fancy dress shop (not sure how you could do it otherwise, to be honest) and I was trying to work out how the fat mouse fits into “The Jungle Book” until I discovered Aljaz was supposed to be Baloo the Bear.  Nothing was quite right about the Revd. Richard Coles’ Flash Gordon, costume, make-up nor performance.

strictly2But I’m being niggly because I do love Strictly.  The format is great.  It is just incredibly long at the moment.  The first episode seemed to go on forever and was just a conveyor belt of people you either vaguely knew or hadn’t heard of.  I much preferred the second episode last week as you had something to compare the celebrities with and the shortening of the time available to learn the dance for the second week throws an interesting spanner in the works which can shake things up.  I wasn’t that happy over the celebrity who went home, but I didn’t vote so I can’t complain.  At this stage of the series by the time I’ve got through the show the time allocated for voting has long gone.  There’s a too liberal use of the pause button in our house- it was about 10.00 pm by the time we finished it yesterday.

What I do like about Strictly is how many of us customise the show.  I’ve known people who press the fast forward button through all the judges’ comments (well actually it was all the judges apart from Craig), or through all of the training,  or all through all of the links (particularly when dear old Sir Bruce was in charge), or through the professionals’ group dance.  Probably more than any other show we use  our remote controls to turn it into the ideal package for ourselves.  I actually watch the whole thing but on the Sunday night results show I often fast forward the special guest performance and the bit when they’re sat on the sofa after having been saved by the public. 

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Is it possible to pick a winner this early on? Not really.  We need to see the celebrities grow and begin to settle into their dance journey.  The audience often tires of those who are really good early on (so beware Debbie McGee and Aston Merrygold), will support the no-hopers only for a while (although too long in the case of Anne Widdicombe, Judy Murray and Ed Balls) and will eventually favour those who we can see blossoming as the season progresses (as evidenced by the last three winners Ore Oduba, Jay McGuinness and Caroline Flack).  The “biggest names” tend to do well but are unlikely to win.  People who present early-morning television often do better than they should.

They got to hold the glitterball- winner of the last three seasons

It’s Series 15 and surely by now we’ve seen pretty much everything that we would expect to see (we haven’t seen anyone pass actually out at the judge’s bench due to stress and exertion but US viewers will no doubt recall the fainting of Marie Osmond!).  There were some thrilling dances last night including Aston Merrygold’s “Trolls”-based Cha Cha Cha, Alexandra Burke’s American Smooth (not up to the amazing Paso Doble of the week before) and the most heartwarming was Susan Calman’s take on “Wonderwoman”.  I would imagine that Brendan Cole’s partner’s chances would be a bit diminished by him challenging head judge Shirley Ballas (I like her) and getting told off by Bruno, but then Charlotte Hawkins probably should have gone out last week.  TV chef Simon Rimmer, Revd. Richard Coles and Ruth Lansford should all be fearing the dance-off but it’s the early days of Strictly and you just can’t tell………………..

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Still, I’m sure that everyone watching will talk about the show to at least one other person so it recalls the magic of television past when we weren’t all going it alone with box sets, catch-up and things we’ve recorded “so don’t talk about it yet!”.  The juggernaut rumbles on and I love it!

strictly12I couldn’t not have a picture of Brucie. 

Sir Bruce Forsyth 1928-2017

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In case anyone doesn’t know “Strictly Come Dancing” is on Saturday evenings on BBC1.  It is available to watch on the BBC I-Player.

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6 thoughts on “Strictly Come Dancing – (BBC1 2017) – A What I’ve Been Watching Review

  1. Hi Phil,

    I like watching Strictly…Thanks for updating your readers about, who is who and competes in the American version…didn’t know any of it….

    I have to admit I miss Brucie…Claudia W. is nowhere near a good replacement with her silly jokes. (I am not getting any of them…)

    Ian hates wtching it. He cannot get through a threshold, you cannot take it too much seriously…too many creative, artistic people among the pros and sometimes they have to get the blood from stone…some people still there (cannot understand how, like Ruth L, or Charlotte H…they both are not entertaining, nor progressing, rather regressing. But good news is, it will soon weed out…

    Saying all that, I cannot decide (or guess) a winner.Some musicians/singers have naturally a great advantage – musicality like Alexandra B. and Aston M…

    Any idea who Mollie King is?

    Jonnie Peacock,hats off, I have 2 my own legs, but can only dream about moving like him…

    I suppose Bruno grew on Ian somehow (can’t believe he is in his early 60ies), but Craig…His Mr. acid tongue, and his nasal pronunciation can send Ian out of the room…He is only trying to balance the views…(and getting paid for it handsomely)…but there is not much choice to get entertained these days. And once one gets over Craig and all the makeup (I don’t even wear any, wantedto put a bit of mascara, but once I put down my glasses found out, can’t see my eyes, NOT to poke it…:)

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  2. We are usually having dinner when it comes on so Wayne has taken to recording it, except Saturday when he forgot so we missed quite a bit of it.
    I agree with Monika about Claudia, I thought Anton should have taken over from Bruce, on the other hand, Bradley Walsh has the right personality for the job and if we can find someone to replace the awful Tess……
    You are right about morning tv presenters, can’t see Ruth lasting long, glad the vicar went last night, it was becoming embarassing to watch.
    I remember Marie Osmond fainting, I remember Donny winning the American version and I believe Jennifer Grey did quite well.
    My favourite judge is Craig. He tells it like it is.
    In my opinion, they need to decide whether it is an entertainment show or a dance competition. Darcey is always on about how entertaining a couple are, maybe she’s just being kind.
    I’ll still watch it, as long as Anton is there, ( would love to dance with him, Wayne doesn’t do dancing). But i digress.
    I wish they had proper music for the dances. Some of what they have is totally wrong for the dances.

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      • Wayne wasn’t in trouble with me. He complained because he likes to watch it.
        I wish the cameras would focus on the footwork instead of close ups of faces. How are we supposed to make an informed decision when we miss the footwork.?

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      • Good point, Kay. How are we supposed to follow any footwork, when we can’t see it? If your Wayne loves it, on BBC2 there is 1/2 hr programme with Zoe Ball (I think she is pretty good to get under the guests skin, better than Claudia). We watch the last minutes, as watching the Coast, when on ITV, there are ads…It is just long enough to wet your appetite…if you forgot to tape it – the last Sat. episode, it is available on iplayer

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