LAST WEEK’S HIGH­LIGHTS…

Sunday Herald Life - - TELEVISION & RADIO -

THE launch show has come and gone, but the se­ries proper has still to com­mence, mean­ing we are now of­fi­cially in the Strictly Come Danc­ing in­ter­reg­num. We have seen the faces of the new epoch, but the regime has yet to be fully es­tab­lished and stamp down on our peasant faces with its glit­tery boot heel. All we can do is wait un­til next Satur­day, and won­der about what might be com­ing.

Tra­di­tion­ally, this silent, Spar­tan, in-be­tween week, as the dancers go off to learn the launch codes of their first tan­gos, has been a mo­ment for re­flec­tion, melan­choly and even mourn­ing. The Strictly equiv­a­lent of Lent. As mem­o­ries of last year come flood­ing back, there is the per­ilous sense of time march­ing on, the fa­mil­iar feel­ing that the golden years have passed, and things will never be as good as they used to be. This feel­ing is harsher than ever this year, of course, be­cause, not only has Len Good­man passed on into the ghost hell of Part­ners In Rhyme, telling his story in pur­ga­tory, but we now have to truly ac­cept we are liv­ing in the post-Ed Balls era. When Balls was first an­nounced as part of last year’s Strictly, there was the wide­spread sense that, hmm, this might be worth keep­ing an eye on. A few more of us, re­mem­ber­ing his reign as Min­is­ter Of Mis­chief in the old gov­ern­ment, when, at pri­mary school pho­to­shoots, he would el­bow small chil­dren in the face to make sure he got a go on the swings first, thought some­thing very in­ter­est­ing in­deed might be brew­ing. But no­body – no­body – pre­dicted the phan­tas­magor­i­cal utopia he would con­jure into ex­is­tence, ren­der­ing the Satur­day nights of that bleak win­ter of 2016 into a boo­gie dada won­der­land. Ev­ery year – af­ter Sergeant, af­ter Wid­de­combe, af­ter Grant – the Strictly faith­ful have wor­ried it can never be like that again, and yet ev­ery year it has man­aged to. But, af­ter wit­ness­ing the pas­sion, sac­ri­fice, trans­fig­u­ra­tion and as­cen­sion of Balls, even the most de­vout be­liever must now be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing doubts.

And yet, against all the odds, this year’s launch show – usu­ally, de­spite the at­tempts to force cheer, a muted and un­cer­tain event – was a blast­ing thing of pure bright joy. Maybe it’s sim­ply be­cause 2017 has turned out even worse than 2016 and we’re all just des­per­ate for some­thing, any­thing, that’s, you know, fun. But watch­ing the show un­fold was a true tonic. It all worked, from Tess’s real tears for Bru­cie, to the re­al­i­sa­tion that new judge Shirley Bal­las will work fine, be­cause it means Bruno can lick her arms when he gets car­ried away.

Even the neo-seg­re­ga­tion­ist non­sense spewed out against wee Su­san Cal­man by idiots adds spice. She is my favourite. Well, her and The Revving-Up Richard Coles. I still doubt we’ll ever get to Balls height again. But, in these two, we can hope. Bring on the dancers. Just as soon as I’ve fin­ished watch­ing Gang­nam Style on YouTube.

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