Strictly Come Dancing Review: The Les Dennis Panto of Saturday Night TV

Strictly Come Dancing

Given my thoughts on X Factor, you’d probably think I’d hate Strictly Come Dancing. And guess what? I… don’t?

The beauty of television, as is the case with all forms of culture and media, is in the variety. Not every television programme has to be Breaking Bad or Narcos, just how every film doesn’t have to be The Godfather.

If every show was like The Wire, that would be absolutely exhausting. If every programme was like The Hunt, The Hunt wouldn’t be as special. There’s room on the palette for a bit of frothy, light entertainment. And that’s where Strictly Come Dancing excels.

The key difference to X Factor, and the main reason for why it is dominating the ratings battle, is that Strictly knows exactly what it is. It isn’t trying to be high drama (like X Factor is), it isn’t trying to make every single moment as emotionally draining as possible. It’s a bunch of C/D/Z list celebrities having a go at something they think would be fun, take seriously, and gradually get better at. The more talented ones get rewarded. The worse ones are in on the joke. No-one’s livelihood depends on it. There are no pre-dance promos about how Jeremy Vine was bullied as a child, or how That One From Eastenders can’t imagine doing anything else with her life.

If anything, it can go too far with the fluffiness, and the pre-dance promos can be pretty cringeworthy. But I’d happily take a 30 second unfunny skit over a 17 year old crying her eyes out while “The Scientist” plays over her. Especially for what is supposed to be silly, light entertainment.

And silly is certainly on the menu for Strictly. Perhaps understandably given it’s a show about dancing, the campness is often dialled up to a trillion, and they go to the “theatre” well several times an episode.

In fact, both X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing are very much “theatre”. But which version would you prefer to watch on a lazy Saturday evening in front of the TV? A bunch of drama school, movie-star-wannabe brats, overacting out of their minds, screaming every word, with lighting and sound controlled by a 16 year old on cocaine? Or panto with Les Dennis? You’d pick Les Dennis. Especially if they were both doing Dick Whittington.

(Oh great, now I want to watch a behind-the-scenes documentary of Les Dennis as Dick Whittington, being directed by a 16 year old on coke. Great job, me.)

I know what you’re up to, Dennis

Yes, the humour is hit and miss, and Tess Daly will NOT STOP TALKING, but I’d take that any day of the week over X Factor. There’s room for family-friendly entertainment on a Saturday night, and Strictly Come Dancing is friendlier and more entertaining than anything out there at the moment.

Plus X Factor is terrible. But I may have mentioned that already.

Strictly Come Dancing Rating: Seriously, someone make that Les Dennis documentary.

Strictly Come Dancing airs on BBC on Saturday’s at 19:00. You can catch previous episodes on the BBC iPlayer

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