The BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing 2021 final this weekend was a major landmark for diversity in the UK.
Battling it out on the dance floor was a young deaf woman, overcoming her disability of not even being able to hear the music, and an all-male partnership jiving and cavorting the way forward for the LGBT community.
Disability and homosexuality and all the more sensational because for the watching TV nation it didn’t seem to matter a hoot. Here was proof that old prejudices are being overcome big time and on one of the nation’s biggest TV stages.
Millions watched and voted for amazing EastEnders star Rose Ayling-Ellis, deaf from birth, taking on TV’s Bake Off winner John Whaite who is gay. Quite rightly Rose won – she didn’t put a dance step wrong the whole series – but her taking the glitter ball was in many ways an added bonus.
Rose and John just being there in the final was a wonderful demonstration of diversity in action. Disability and LGBT issues being completely accepted in mainstream public life and at the same time almost disregarded because it was the dancing people wanted.
A massive shout out as well for the two professional dancers who guided their finalists throughout the competition – Giovanni Pernice with Rose and Johannes Radebe with John, both doing incredible jobs bringing their charges to near perfection.
John Whaite (R) with Johannes Radebe
Here was Strictly getting it right…
Without doubt Rose and John carried the show but in so many other ways Strictly is beginning to get it very wrong indeed.
The sheer amount of gush in the programme about how great everyone and how fabulous the show is has reached epic proportions. It’s got to the point where the time spent talking of the fabulousness seems to have overtaken the amount of actual dancing. Tales of viewers fast-forwarding through the gush and just playing the dancing and scoring are growing all the time.
It’s as if the Beeb now has so much success invested in Strictly the show cannot be allowed to be criticised in any shape or form. The result? The Saturday and Sunday shows are chock full of over-the-topness to the nth degree.
The Strictly idea doesn’t need this. The core of the show is a still a major winner. As is the other major BBC hit, The Repair Shop, where people’s old and loved but now falling-apart possessions are painstakingly put back together by and army of handy experts.
When it began, The Repair Shop was a truly simple and wonderful programme, full of human interest and magical repairs of old rocking horses, Grandad’s war medals, Granny’s music box or toy cars loved by little Jimmies who today, 40 years on, were desperate to regain their childhood.
TV's The Repair Shop
And with the memories and the expert reconstructions, there was the odd tear in the eye of the folks who had brought the item along in the first place.
Now, one or two series on and a major audience having been built, the show seems to be about one thing – make the folks cry when the repair is revealed… at any cost.
It’s the equivalent of the Strictly gush.