COUCH POTATO: A Strictly unmissable final for this convert

South Wales Argus: Programme Name: Strictly Come Dancing - TX: 07/12/2013 - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Embargoed for publication until: 07/12/2013 - Picture Shows: **LIVE SHOW** Embargoes for publication until 20:15 hrs on Saturday 7th December 2013L - R Ola Jordan, Ashley T Programme Name: Strictly Come Dancing - TX: 07/12/2013 - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Embargoed for publication until: 07/12/2013 - Picture Shows: **LIVE SHOW** Embargoes for publication until 20:15 hrs on Saturday 7th December 2013L - R Ola Jordan, Ashley T

So it was written, in tablets of stone, around the time of Bruce Forsyth’s birth.

“Thou shalt not make a decent pro-celebrity dance show with a bloke from Hollyoaks.”

It’s a commandment that’s proved unbreakable, until 2013 when BBC1 smashed the TV bible, booked Ashley Taylor Dawson and, in spite of this, produced its best ever series.

And with it a miracle – I became a die-hard Strictly Come Dancing fan.

The fact it retained the loyalty of the majority of us even during the mid-season lull when the funny turns had been lost and the deadwood, like Fiona Fullerton and Ben Cohen, were being shed too slowly shows how woeful The X Factor was, which it has waltzed over.

It’s also testament to a series that’s been all but in hiatus since Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s “legendary” Charleston and the wrong the judges must right in the final by awarding the 10s they failed to give by deeming week two too early.

It was a moment that mirrored Strictly itself in running the risk of peaking before really getting going.

But the burgeoning ratings only grew, rich reward for a dramatic transformation that’s gone far beyond the change of venue.

The spark of genius was hiring not one but two comedy dancers, Dave Myers and Mark Benton, the best double act the BBC’s had since Morecambe & Wise, and pairing them with pros willing to unleash their inner ballroom beast.

Myers delivered two all-time great performances – wheeled in on a fruit trolley wielding maracas for a salsa, and his first dance, to Moves Like Jagger.

It set the series’ stall and was matched by the pure charm of Darcey Bussell who told him: “I want to cry with happiness. You’re slightly out of control but I’m strangely in love with you.”

She balances Craig Revel Horwood’s superbly judged panto villain.

Bruno Tonioli alone on the panel doesn’t understand his role and has a goldfish memory, saying of Susanna Reid: “No one expected her to have that natural ability.”

At least no one who didn’t see her win the 2011 Children In Need BBC newsreaders Strictly special anyway.

Just as clueless is the BBC brains who keeps shoving Claudia Winkleman on set with a broom.

She and Tess Daly are equally replaceable, yet Brucie’s decrepit shouting-at-shadows method of presenting has been strangely in keeping with events on the dancefloor this year.

His gags and delivery are a national embarrassment, yet I missed the old codger whenever Daly filled in for his sick leave.

And I can’t call tomorrow night’s final, a crucial factor the past two series have lacked with the Louis Smith and Harry Judd Olympics/McFly block vote.

I can, though, pinpoint when the tide turned and this show began fulfilling its potential.

It was week four when Mark Benton, looking like a fat Mark Lamarr in an incontinence suit, gave his cha-cha-cha the MC Hammer treatment and received this comment from the head judge: “Mark, do it again.”

The watershed moment Len Goodman finally got this show after only 11 years.

Strictly, do it again.

This week’s Spudulikes...

Warren Gatland and Andy Murray deservedly named BBC Coach and Sports Personality of the Year respectively, plus the short-skirted blonde in the front row who uncrossed her legs on noticing she was recreating the Sharon Stone Basic Instinct police interrogation scene.

Wagner’s triumphant X Factor return.

Early Bafta shouts for Jim Broadbent (Det Chief Supt Tommy Butler) and Paul Anderson (Gordon Goody) in BBC1’s classy The Great Train Robbery. Though I’m not sure what the head of the Flying Squad was doing in bed with Cassandra from Only Fools and Horses.

Matthew “Chandler Bing” Perry belittling bigoted Peter Hitchens as a “Santa” and “Peter Pan” fantasist on Newsnight’s drugs debate. (Could Newsnight *BE* any funnier?)

And Nigella Lawson, fresh from court admissions of cocaine use, preparing a salad on BBC2’s Nigellissima: An Italian Inspired Christmas repeat: “Add some olive oil. I’ve got salt. Beautiful, bit of snow.”

Looks like you’ve mistaken the salt for your private stash, Nigella.

This week’s Spuduhates...

Carrie Grant ruining The One Show’s life-affirming “virtual choir” by pretending to conduct the 500 viewers’ Hark! The Herald Angels Sing while apparently recreating the Gangnam Style dance.

All the TV chefs wasting everyone’s time demonstrating how to cook anything other than turkey or goose on Christmas Day (stick your glazed gammon up your gas mark five, sunshine).

Limelight hogger Nicole Scherzinger capping the worst series of X Factor by attempting, and failing, to out-sing Sam Bailey.

Ricky Gervais disappearing up his own orifice discussing C4’s Derek on The One Show: “I think I left behind the veil of irony that haunted most of my work.”

And this TV clash. Wednesday, 8pm, C4. Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners.

Wednesday, 8pm, C5. Excessive Compulsive Collectors.

End-of-term note to broadcasters. Must try harder in 2014.

Merry Christmas and happy new year to you all.

Comments (1)

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1:26pm Fri 20 Dec 13

Katie Re-Registered says...

Can't believe that Strictly still won't feature any same sex dancing couples. The obviously concious decision to do so only adds institutional heterosexism and gender-normativity to the other collection institutional things that are wrong about that dinosaur that calls itself the BBC.
Can't believe that Strictly still won't feature any same sex dancing couples. The obviously concious decision to do so only adds institutional heterosexism and gender-normativity to the other collection institutional things that are wrong about that dinosaur that calls itself the BBC. Katie Re-Registered

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