AND so my interest in Strictly Come Dancing has come to an end. There are two things that surprise me about this: 1) That I was interested in SCD in the first place and 2) It was Lisa Riley which got me interested.
I’ve never been a huge fan of SCD, which continues to its conclusion this Saturday night.
It’s always veered between being too smug in a ‘we’re not mean like Britain’s Got Talent’ sort of way and then, when audience numbers haven’t been as good as the Beeb would have like, the element of mean has appeared, along with various ‘off the record’ stories in the tabloids.
But most of all, I can’t stand Bruce Forsyth. Am I allowed to say that?
There’s a fine line between TV legend and aging parody, and ‘Brucie,’ gently patronised by the equally awful Tess Daly every week as his co-host, certainly falls into the latter.
His jokes aren’t funny yet people feel compelled to laugh because, well, it’s Brucie, isn’t it?
That’s no way for a TV legend to spend his time on TV.
His brief break for a rest during the middle of the series proved to be a bit of a godsend though – reminding the audience that no matter how cardboard Bruce becomes, he’s got many more dimensions than Tess, who can be so wooden I wouldn’t be surprised if she was delivered in a flatpack box from Ikea every Saturday.
And here’s another phrase I thought I’d never write: Thank goodness for Claudia Winkleman, the third-wheel host who comes into her own on Sunday nights interviewing the dancers, celebrities and judges on the results show.
Her humour has guests on their toes. Engaging, witty, amusing – but maybe she seems so refreshing because of the failings of her co-hosts.
But it’s Lisa Riley who has been the star of the show for me, and, to be honest, the reason I watched it.
When they announced the former Emmerdale star had been signed up, it struck me as an odd choice. She’s been out of Emmerdale for years, and is seen most consistently on repeats of You’ve Been Framed (a programme which would be so much better if they just raided YouTube each week).
She fit the bill, however, for the comedy act. You know, the one who is teed up to be panned each week by the judges, but the public love her and keep her in despite the judges.
“So what if she likes dancing,” the judges might say, “she can’t dance.” At least, I suspect that was the script being planned.
But the truth was she could dance. She’s a big woman, granted, but she still moves.
And she just loves the show. Her personality has been infectious and she’s perhaps the first contestant to be utterly natural when being interviewed. Many before her have tried to act as though it’s the taking part which counts, but I suspect Lisa is the first contestant in the series to genuinely believe it.
Seeing her leave on Sunday was actually quite sad, but the impact she’s made on the programme will live long in the memory.
She’s proof that when the judges expect to say ‘So you think you can dance?’ they sometimes come up against someone who can rightly say ‘Yes, I can.’
What I’ll be watching next week: Oh, what to pick from the Christmas schedules? Make sure you find time for The Snowman and The Snowdog (Christmas Eve, Channel 4, 8pm). The Snowman sequel – some 30 years on.