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

Belfast Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - Eilis O’Han­lon

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

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