I heard a surreal discussion on Radio 4’s “The Moral Maze” last night which considered: “have these sorts of programmes now become so powerful that they’ve elevated the cult of celebrity to something we aspire to and admire, while at the same time turning a blind eye to the moral turpitude that so often goes hand in hand with that culture. Post the cultural studies revolution, who now argues that Bach is of more moral worth than Britney? Is that the triumph of democracy or demagoguery? Have the arts given in to the forces of cultural relativism and sacrificed the intellectual high ground in their quest for a wider audience? Or is the problem not the power of programmes like the X Factor, but that those in the arts industry are more interested in talking to each other rather than championing intellectual excellence. How do we judge the moral worth of art?” I have rarely heard such pseudo-intellectual tosh.
The “Strictly Come Dancing” final was a bit of a damp squib. Pamela Stephenson having been ejected, we were left to choose between Matt Baker and Kara Tointon. The judges were in no doubt that Kara should be the winner. The viewers agreed, but we’re not allowed to know the size of her margin of victory. I voted for Matt, but never mind. The dancing in this series has been as good as it ever has been. But that’s despite the producers, who came very close to wrecking it. It’s a clear case of “refreshing the brand” for the worst of reasons.
So, as a last word from me on this series, the requirements for a real refreshment:
- A complete change of judges. They have become completely ridiculous. The only one to emerge with any integrity has been, strangely, Craig Revel-Horwood. Bruno Tonioli has become a caricature of himself, Alesha Dixon has nothing worthwhile to say, and Len Goodman lost the plot entirely as he struggled with the relaxation of rules. All of them were absurdly biassed. It wasn’t just that they knew who they wanted to win; that’s always been the case. This time they were clearly biassed against a contestant, Matt Baker, and the producers colluded with this, editing VT to Matt’s disadvantage. There are plenty of professional dance judges out there.
- Bruce Forsyth must go. I can’t comment too much on his performance this year, as I mute it when he’s on, but it was wrong that the BBC gave him another contract, paying him a fortune of OUR money to dodder on. The presenters should be competent at presenting, not performing, and Forsyth’s replacement should be someone who doesn’t seek to be the star of the show. Matt Baker would be good!
- There must be no more joke contestants. I would hesitate to put an age limit on it, because both Pamela Stephenson and Felicity Kendal did amazingly well this year. But the person brought on just to generate publicity and controversy and push up the ratings actually threatens the very existence of the show. If Ann Widdecombe did any good at all, it was to reinforce this point. All celebs should be at least potentially capable of performing to a reasonable standard.
- The rules for each dance must be clear, and published on the website. If the couples break the rules they should be automatically penalised.
- The Sunday results programme should be abandoned. It’s very easy now to find the result late on Saturday night, and the Sunday show this year was just half an hour of padding.
- The public vote should be negative rather than positive, i.e. voting someone out.
All of this is contentious, but we can’t have another series like this one.