Strictly Come Dancing
Come Dancing, Strictly Ballroom, Ballroom Dancing, Strictly Come Dancing. Do you see? Lumme, that's the worst least scannable title of any show in absolutely ages, let's hope it turns out to be quite good.
Eight celebrities (Celebrity factor: B, Jason Wood's the only one we've never heard of) show off in a showdown on the dance floor. Each one is paired up with a professional dancer and they're cha-cha-cha-ing so they can go cha-cha-ching for BBC's Sport Relief (thanks). Excitingly it's live, so the potential for humiliation is rather high.
Each week the couples are split into two groups, one group will take on one dance (for example, the Quickstep) and the other group will take on the other dance (for example, the Rhumba). Each couple dances individually for about two minutes to, and get this right, a live band and singer (blimey, it's been a while since we've seen these on television on a Saturday evening). After each dance, the four resident judges give their opinions (and are greeted with cheers and boos in the true panto style), and when the couple are backstage the judges offer their marks out of ten. The couples are then ranked at the end of all the dances in order of their total mark. This is where the viewers come in.
The judges only have 50% of the final say. You can pick up the phone and vote for you favourite. At the end of the show, the lines close and the couples are ranked 1st through 8th in terms of viewer votes. The judge's ranking and the viewer's ranking are averaged with the worst couple getting kicked off each week. And there are daily updates on BBC3 with regards to the couples practicing.
So it's Sport Relief does Fame Academy But With Dance therefore. But don't turn off just yet as Celebrity Fam... sorry, Comic Relief Does Fame Academy turned out to be quite entertaining in the end let us not forget, and they've pulled out all the stops to make this as entertaining as possible. First and foremost, it's being hosted by Bruce Forsyth who is on hand to berate the audience, the judges and make gentle entendres towards the women. He's developed a catchphrase of sorts for this new show, telling each of the eight couples just before they wander off stage after the judges have said their piece that "you've nothing to beat, I've got a bet on you etc." We love Brucie of course, but it does have to be said he doesn't sound entirely comfortable reading off an autocue and it's really fairly obvious as to when he's making it up as he's going along and when he's clearly reading out the instructions to vote for people between dances.
His co-host, Tess Daly, who does the after-dance back stage chats is unthreatening.
Nice set as well. They've knocked up a convincing dancefloor, although I think it seems a bit small, live in Television Centre (although they're doing an episode at the Blackpool Tower's Dance Hall, where they used to film old episodes of Come Dancing, for week three), there's a large pit for the live orchestra and the graphics are convincingly glittery, shimmery and a bit 1920s-esque. It's got quite a good catchy latinesque theme tune as well.
It's a brave move to schedule this on Saturday nights. It's certainly not the old Come Dancing you may know and love (which was axed after over forty years in 1996 with Rosemarie Ford, Brucie's old Generation Game co-host, at the helm, but was subsequently bought back for one-off specials). Ballroom dancing isn't the first thing you think of as being Saturday evening entertainment, but to the BBC's credit we've a show here that succeeds as a decent entertainment programme, albeit one whose subject may turn some people off, Heated up with the non-obvious lure of minor celebrities or not. It is a show that's all about acheivement and watching minor celebs training to be ballroom dance gods and goddesses before our very eyes and that's always a positive in my book.
In summary then, we quite like what they've done with it and we like the way it is still a fairly serious competition, albeit a fairly serious competition with a viewer phone vote making half the final score. Try it it's different!