LAST WEEK’S HIGHLIGHTS…
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.