Non fiction Books of the Year tomorrow and then on Tuesday my Book of the Year, but cannot allow the final of Strictly to go without posting about it.
My friend Rosemary and I always watch the final together and round she came. Shepherd's pie ready so just had to sling in oven, choc fudge pudding made, ditto so we had the first course and settled down. Blackpool really is a spectacular venue, lots of gold and gilding and glitz and it augured well though why the contenders were wheeled on in chariots I do not know. Oh gladiators? I geddit....
After watching Jason Donovan's amazing Argentine Tango in the semis was delighted to see him in the final and infuriated by Judge Alesha Dixon (though Judge is a misnomer, one paper called her the 'resident twit') pronouncing that in her opinion the final was a 'two horse race' ie Harry and Chelsee. Now we viewers like to maintain the rather fragile belief that the judges are impartial (HA!) but, with the exception of Craig, they make it so obvious who they want to get through and skew their marks accordingly. Alesha and Bruno spent most of the series slavering over Harry's body and whipping out tens like there was no tomorrow and it all got a tad tedious after a while. Fortunately, Harry seems like a really nice guy, unassuming and charming, otherwise I would have loathed him by the time the final was broadcast. About time the BBC got to grips with the Ghastly Miss Dixon and got rid of her 'You woz wicked', 'I commend you' and 'You owned that dance floor' seem to be her three main phrases which she trots out ad nauseum. I remember the first year she was 'judging' she asked one celeb, can't remember who, 'were you smellin' her hair?' We had a guest judge this year, Jennifer Gray who came to fame in the movie Dirty Dancing and has done nothing since except win the US version of Strictly. One would have thought that she had a slight advantage having been taught to dance by Patrick Swayze, but no matter. The point I am making, albeit in a long-winded fashion, is that the best part about having Jennifer G on Strictly was that she made Alesha look positively intellectual and brilliant and that takes some doing.
OK back to the dancing - all great as it should be in the final. Did not care though for Harry and Aliona's show dance, too much chest (Harry) and running hands through hair a la Travolta in Grease (also Harry) and which we have seen before (cue screams from the audience) but a Standing Ovation as ever. Their quickstep was simply wonderful. Chelsee's jive a la Shrek I found messy the first time I saw it and see no reason to alter my opinion, though her energy and obvious enjoyment was evident, did not like the show dance much and then out comes Jason and Kristina. They had done their tango to I will Survive, huge fun and done with great panache and then out came their show dance which was exactly that and simply great high octane energy and best of the night as far as I am concerned. It ended with them both on the floor and Jason then crawled across to the judges, clearly knackered.
I actually voted on Saturday night and voted for Jason as I was so incensed at Alesha's pre-show comments but I thought he was great and would have loved him to go through. Sadly, he is so incredibly earnest and serious and every pronouncement is an Oscar speech that he rather ruins it all by sounding a tad needy and he was voted off, much to my disappointment.
So we were left with the two Alesha and the Judges wanted and got and there was no way to call it and I wasn't bothered who won. Well, Harry did and it all went a bit potty and his mates from McFly invaded the floor to shouts of Geddoff by Brucie who hates it when he does not have control of what is going on and was all a bit riotous.
A great evening, ruined by the unnecessary 'singer' in the results bit who throughout the series, without exception, have all been crushingly talentless, appallingly dressed and surrounded by dire dancers (their own not the pros from SCD) and the mute button came into action and I nipped out to make coffee.
It has been a really good series and shows the value of having at least some A or B list slebs and not the Z list which they had a couple of series ago when most of the contestants were unknown to practically everyone who did not watch daytime TV or Celebrity Gardner/Hairdresser/road sweeper et al. Trounced the X Factor in the ratings though why this bothers the BBC so much I don't know. They don't need to even take ratings into the equation when making a programme, we pay for whole bloated corporation for heaven's sake, but viewing figures are the main criteria.
I gather that the producer of the last few series, the one responsible for making it more glitzy and tawdry at times, getting rid of Arlene, Matthew Cutler, Ian Waite and other pro dancers we all loved, including Karen Hardy (no coincidence surely that most of these dancers are over 30) has now gone herself. This was greeted on the SCD forums with cries of joy. There are now rumours that the show is going to be 'refreshed' again. So we sit back and wait. Here are my refreshing tips:
- Make the judges mark consistently and stick to the rules ie no illegal lifts but Len happy to let them through after moaning about them in previous series
- Get rid of Alesha and appoint a female judge who knows what she is talking about. Too late to bring back Arlene now but Karen Hardy seems to be the people's choice. Probably means that it won't happen and let's face it, she is too OLD for the BBC
- Get rid of the embarrassingly awful, dire and dreary VTs throughout the show taken 'during their training'. Heaven knows how long these take to film and must impact on the training time. The sight of Harry in Lincoln Green tights in the film themed week which rather revealed his skinny little legs, was excruciating
- Bruce is a fixture now and we put up with him and, while he drives me mad most of the time, I am rather fond of him
- Tess Daly has the presenting skills of a newt and her persistence in infantilising contestants who are tiny (Chelsee this year, Louise Litton and Rachel Stephens in the past) and hugging them and saying Aah Bless is condescending and insulting. Do pack it in. If she has to stay and, sadly, I see no sign of her going, then somebody get her a stylist and, best of all, a decent bra
- Control the audience please and desist from feeding them liquid mercury on arrival at the BBC and hyping them up to hysteria. The constant shrieking, screaming and yelling is wearisome and during the visit of Gareth Malone and the Army Wives choir last week, their behaviour wrecked the entire thing. Lots of people have complained about this but, as per, the BBC have dismissed it as 'coming from a small minority'. Well, the BBC seem to go out of their way to cater for minorities so perhaps they should treat us as one and listen.
- Have the main show and the results show on the same night and rid us all of the farcical showing on Sunday and referring to everything as 'last night' when we know it is anything but
- Have a final It Takes Two so that we can talk to the finalists and hear their thoughts. Chelsee and Pasha were ushered off the floor at amazing speed and it was all rather discourteous
- Get rid of James Jordan. This is very much a personal thing I know, but his constant moaning when Craig crits him and on camera behaviour is childish and pathetic. Gurning for the camera when the couple who have just left the dance floor and are being interviewed, highly irritating, his comment that 'Craig doesn't like me and is taking it out on Alex' unbelievably stupid and generally, he is a pain. I gather that he and Ola are not wanted on the Strictly Tour and his departure may be on the cards. I an only hope that this is so and if he would take Brendon with him that would be even better.
- My final suggestion - PLEASE bring back Ian Waite...
OK that is it - despite all my rants and moans I simply adore Strictly and hate it when it finishes. Huge fun, tremendously engaging and perfect Saturday night viewing. Already missing it.