Strictly... was BBC right to keep duo on show? Alex Kane and Eilis O’Hanlon
Was the BBC wrong to keep Seann Walsh and Katya Jones on Strictly after their drunken canoodling? Or is it none of our business if reality TV stars cheat on their partners? Eilis O’Hanlon and Alex Kane agree to disagree
After all, it’s Strictly Come Dancing, not Songs of Praise
It’s been reported that the departure of Chris Evans as host of Radio Two’s Breakfast Show will instantly save the BBC £1m a year, because, being a woman, his replacement, Zoe Ball, won’t be paid anywhere near as much when she takes over.
Here’s a way to save even more money: let’s just sack all the overpaid celebrities who’ve ever cheated on their partners. The cash flooding into BBC coffers would be so great that we’d all get a refund on the licence fee for years to come.
It’s not as if people in the public eye are known for their impeccable morals.
Somehow, though, we’re still supposed to be outraged because two semi-famous individuals taking part in this year’s Strictly Come Dancing were photographed “snogging” after a boozy night out, despite — prepare to be shocked, matron — both being in relationships with other people at the time.
Is this really what we’ve come to? In the past, sinful people were denounced from the pulpit by far-from-blameless priests. Now it happens via a public shaming on the front of tabloid newspapers and across social media.
It was rumoured that the BBC was even thinking of asking comedian Seann Walsh and professional dancer Katya Jones to leave the show.
This is the same BBC that has, with a nod and a wink, knowingly hyped up the sexual tension between couples for years on the back of the so called ‘Strictly curse’, which has seen marriages break up as dancing partners take all that sizzling passion on the dancefloor a bit too far behind closed doors.
In a profession notorious for the rarity of its long-term relationships, it’s probably hypocritical
to push two huge egos together for long periods of time in that intense environment and then act surprised when they develop feelings for one another.
Seann and Katya’s mistake was getting caught in the act before the end of the series. It wasn’t very edifying, but tossing them to the wolves for some drunken smooching is like getting angry at contestants on The Apprentice for being boastful idiots. Isn’t that part of the job description?
It’s even more bizarre that this whole furore is being driven by the tabloid media, an industry which makes huge amounts of money from peddling salacious stories of celebrity misbehaviour.
These whited sepulchres are now the guardians of public morality? Satire, truly, is dead. They’re hardly virgins and saints themselves.
If it wasn’t the kissing, it was the public apology which the pair delivered on the It Takes Two companion show, which drew criticism for not going far enough.
I’ve seen some of Seann Walsh’s stand-up and, trust me, that appearance, in which he had to put on a long face and say sorry to the nation, was arguably the funniest thing he’s ever done.
Sincere or otherwise, why is it any of our concern? Seann Walsh and Katya Jones are just two people prancing around a dancefloor every Saturday evening for our entertainment.
As viewers, we have every right to judge them on how they perform a paso doble inspired by sci-fi film The Matrix (no, really, in the weird world of Strictly, that did happen last weekend), but none to demand that they’re paragons of virtue in their private lives.
Forcing them to appear before the cameras, penitent and downcast, is the modern equivalent of making adulterers wear a scarlet letter on their clothes as an act of societal humiliation.
The only people who have any call to feel aggrieved about this incident are the guilty pair’s wronged partners.
Walsh’s (now former) longterm girlfriend, actress Rebecca Humphries, has already issued a magnificent statement, insisting that she’s nobody’s victim and celebrating her newfound freedom from a toxic relationship.
Katya’s husband, Neil Jones, also a professional dancer on Strictly, has chosen to keep his thoughts to himself. That’s his prerogative, too.
The rest of us should mind our own business. That includes the BBC.
The corporation might be tut-tutting over this, but secretly it’s surely loving all the free publicity.
As for the great British public, if they’re that offended by a bit of clandestine canoodling, they can always vote Walsh and Jones out of the competition this weekend. That’s showbusiness.
It is Strictly Come Dancing, after all, not Songs of Praise.
TV apology: Seann Walshwith Strictly dance partner Katya Jones
Public split: Seann Walsh and former partner Rebecca Humphries