The Strictly Come Dancing Final: a dramatic night for all. Tears, tantrums and twirls, and that’s just my living room. It’s as if the industrial strength hairspray has seeped through the nation’s television sets and partially sedated us all. I find myself laughing at Brucie and wishing my wardrobe had more sparkle. I even start to believe that Bruno is a real person and not a permanently aroused jack-in-a-box. I am completely and utterly sucked in. Described by a BBC insider as a "warm bath", the show’s continued success relies on the light-hearted silliness it brings to Saturday night; in short it is the comfort food of television. However, it is certainly not to be underestimated.
The tenth series of Strictly consistently defeated rival X Factor in the rating’s battles, and pulled in an incredible 14 million viewers for the final. X Factor and Strictly both aim to be a theatrical viewing experience, with each year becoming bolder, brighter and generally more abrasive to the eyes, but somehow the latter manages to retain some semblance of heart. By sticking to the same formula and pretty much the same team since its conception in 2004, the show has kept its core fan base whilst seducing disillusioned X Factor devotees with promises of sincere judging and (slightly) less desperate competitors. Though the show undoubtedly (and occasionally unfairly) boosts the profiles of those on it (Alesha Dixon I’m talking to you), there’s an overwhelming sense that is actually is just about the dancing, and, wait for it… the journey. The judges know what they’re talking about and offer the right balance of humour and advice, and the celebs seems genuinely bitten by the notorious ‘Strictly Bug’.
This year has been no exception, with Louis Smith, Denise Van Outen, Dani Harman and Kimberly Walsh fighting tooth and highly-polished nail for the title. Though each have had their ups and downs throughout the series (such is the way of Saturday night viewing) it was Smith who stepped up to win in truly Olympian style. Despite playing up to his role as this year’s Strictly Stud, his Charleston was accurate and full of character, his Dirty Dancing Salsa preferable even to the original, and his showdance, well… just watch it on You Tube.
Though the ordering of the show was a bit rushed, with Robbie Williams shoved on the end and sounding like an overtired pub singer, the dancers themselves provided more than enough entertainment. As a bit of a Strictly puritan, it was great to see all four of the finalists perform the dances with style and technical ability, whilst completely immersing themselves in the general giddiness that is Strictly. The whole show verges on hysteria; from the unpredictable nature of Bruce Forsyth (or for that matter, Bruce Forsyth’s hair), to the sheer brightness of everything and everyone on set, the show is pulsating with energy. Mercifully, the kind of energy that goes nicely with sitting in your pyjamas with a cup of tea.
Admittedly, I am more invested in Strictly than your average/sane viewer. Having been a ballroom dancer aged 3 through 18, the arrival of Strictly meant my weird and glittery hobby became cool overnight. Well, cool in an unashamedly not cool kind of way. Why the hipster contingency haven’t jumped on Ballroom is beyond me… Eight years later and Strictly is still bewitching us. We know it will be in-your-face, camp, and a bit cringey, but we do it anyway because it’s bloody good fun.