THE LAST WORD... ‘… If we criticise somebody who’s got one leg underdog’ we look like we’re bashing the
WITH DANCINGWITHTHESTARS JUDGE TODD McKENNEY
“THERE have been some difficult times [judging on Dancing With The Stars] – we had to really think a couple of times on how we approached things. Like [Paralympian) Gerrard Gosen, the blind dancer was one example of that. He is doing something extraordinary as a blind man taking on dancing, having never seen dancing in his whole life. “We had to discover how honest we can be about somebody who is obviously courageous and that was really difficult. It put us in a better position, certainly Helen [Richey] and I, to judge [Paralympian] Kelly [Cartwright] this series who is dancing with a prosthetic leg. It’s really hard [to judge fairly] because everyone does have to be judged by the same guidelines. [Both celebrities] said they didn’t want any favours. (But] you’ve got people in this series like [ My Kitchen Rules contestant] Ash Pollard who is just an incredible dancer up against someone like Kelly who’s got that massive challenge of dancing with only one leg that can bend and point and all the things we need in dancing so what we tend to do now is to separate each contestant and judge them in their own – and I hate the word – but … journey, rather than one against the other.
I’m abundantly conscious of [the social media army]. We are in a hard place because our job is to critique and we understand that if we put any level of criticism on somebody who’s got one leg … we are going to look like we’re bashing the underdog, no matter what we do. And that army comes out in full force, but I would challenge them to sit in our position and have to do it themselves, live on national television.
I do get wind of how difficult it is [to find celebrities for the show]. The celebrities around town know how much work it is if you want to come out of it looking great and I think that narrows down the pool. You can’t fake it. You can’t learn it sitting in a plane, in a cab on one job to another, it’s hours on the dance floor. So I think word is out it’s a really hard gig.
Funnily enough [ Dancing With The Stars] is one of the easiest gigs of the week for me because I can’t prepare for it except know what songs they’re dancing to. I’ve got no reason to leave, I love it, I think it celebrates dance and also what it does for what I call my real job is enormous in getting audiences to the theatre to basically see if I can really do anything.
With that comes the added pressure of having to pull out a good performance because I’m well aware of being in a glasshouse on a Sunday night criticising people’s favourite celebrities so I’m going to have to be pretty sharp when I hit the stage myself. I can’t afford to slack off.” DANCING WITH THE STARS SUNDAY, 8PM, SEVEN