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Strictly surreal

Razia Iqbal | 18:19 UK time, Wednesday, 19 November 2008

It is, to say the very least, a slightly surreal sight, watching John Sergeant, broadcaster and former political editor, holding a news conference about his decision to quit the light entertainment/reality television show, Strictly Come Dancing.

He said the prospect (quite real apparently) of him winning a competition in which he is without question the worst dancer, would be a joke too far, even for him.

It's an honourable position, I suppose, in the context of being true to a definitition of how a competition works. He has clearly enjoyed his time in the limelight and has provided great, clean fun on a Saturday night.

I was struck a few days ago by another political correspondent (also formerly of this parish), Nick Jones, saying that John Sergeant understood that to become a good political correspondent you have to become a celebrity. Do you? John Sergeant is obviously good at spotting opportunities to re-invent himself and many people in the country have taken him to their hearts.

But I suspect that even among fans of this show, there may be those who will argue that our culture has stooped so low in our worshipping at the altar of celebrity, that a frothy, enjoyable light entertainment show should become a focus of national debate.

I literally bumped into a woman today at the National Gallery, who was walking into the special room where Titian's Diana and Acteon painting is hanging. She overheard me talking about John Sergeant stepping down from Strictly and she was crestfallen. It was a genuine "watercooler" moment, which made me smile. What a pity for the National Gallery in London and Edinburgh, that talk of Titian comes very low down the pecking order of national conversations.

Another aspect of this which is lost in the razmatazz, is to do with the pursuit of interactivity. And this may come back to bite. The majority of those who have posted on BBC message boards, think this is a stitch up and want John Sergeant to stay in the show.

There is a sense of ownership when people get involved with broadcasters, and the tenor of the emails is that if the public vote means anything, then their votes should be respected. Obviously, no one can be forced to dance on a Saturday night, but John Sergeant's decision to walk away from the competition has prompted a suspicion amongst viewers, that he may have been forced to step down.

It is just a show, but people take their involvement with it seriously; this is as much about that as it is about entertainment.


  • Comment number 1.

    `The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.`
    Winston S. Churchill

  • Comment number 2.

    Beyond the obvious entertainment, peoples livelihoods are at stake here too. All the people who work on the show are just as important to the format as the celebrities. That said, I think that although John has come across as a very sweet, determined and hard working guy, it's unfair to the other celebrities to think that throughout this competition, they are not considered entertaining by the majority of their viewing public, judging by a lot of the comments being made. But then what's good for one is always bad for another.

    At a time when the world seems to be a fairly depressing place, I think we look to television to cheer us up, and remind us that it's not all bad.

  • Comment number 3.

    I think the judges should stand down, or better still, sacked - they are rude, spiteful bullies.

    John Sargeant resembles your favourite uncle and I would far rather dance with him than one of the pretentious judges.

    This is Saturday evening entertainment for heavens sake and it was so refreshing to see someone learning to dance who did not intimidate us - we could relate to him.

    This is a sorry end and has tarnished the series and I shall no longer watch it.

  • Comment number 4.

    "they are rude, spiteful bullies." - you make it sound like they targeted John Sargeant specifically. They called Mark Foster dull and he accepted that but tried to improve, and succeeded. However there was indeed a risk of John winning what is essentially a dancing contest (it is called Strictly come DANCING after all), but I don't agree with him stepping down.

    The judges are there to judge the dance and if it's a disaster then they will say so, but perhaps everyone seems to happily ignore the fact that they were praising the other dancers for their hard work and determination...and frankly astoundingly good dances.

    Let the competition finally begin!!

  • Comment number 5.

    `The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.`
    Winston S. Churchill

    Did he say that after he was defeated in the 1945 election. A few pretty bad dictators listed below.

    Joseph Stalin
    Adolph Hitler
    Mao Tse-Tung
    Saddam Hussein
    Pol Pot ...

  • Comment number 6.

    Yet another media driven storm in a tea cup. As with everything these days, it seems that the media can only concentrate on one thing at a time, be it a very dull ballroom dancing show, Ross and Brand, or the credit crunch. Surely there must be some more news worthy material out there to fill tomorrows fish and chip holders?

  • Comment number 7.

    The BBC had a "dancing" competition for about 40 was called Come Dancing and hardly anybody watched it.

    This is entertainment, nothing more, and the supercilious judges have completely missed that point. Send them back to 11pm on a Tuesday for their "dancing" if it is so precious to them.

  • Comment number 8.

    I think that it is a shame that that John has left - not sure whether he was pushed or not.

    I think it is a shame that certain people were pleading with the public to vote for the dancing then when John leaves they change their tune and wish that he had left the normal way.

    They can't have it all ways - just play by the rules!

  • Comment number 9.

    Someone's quit one of the numerous celebrity shows. So what? Stop taking these things seriously.

  • Comment number 10.

    So John has decided to leave, whether slightly bullied out or not we may never really know. #8 said "I think it's a shame that certain people were pleading with the public to vote for the dancing then when John leaves they change their tune and wish that he had left the normal way" Well... that sounds like trying to wash away their own guilt to me.

    However... this is a competition and there will be only one winner so everyone who has been voted off will have been voted off eventually... everyone except the winner that is. Maybe John would have won, maybe not but that will forever remain one of those unanswered questions won't it.

    If the judges and the powers that be want this to be strictly a dancing competition and take the popularity aspect away then they, the judges should have a higher percentage of the vote so they can swing the vote their way. Does that sound fair to eveyrone? Yeah... I thought not.

    So what now? John was invited to participate and they knew up front he wasn't a dancer, does that mean we'll only see celebrities who can already dance in the future? Will this turn into just another "look at me" show for celebrities? John reached the common folk, showing us that if he can do this we can do this. So he's not the greatest dancer... SO WHAT?

    I'm so proud of John and Kristina for working as hard as they have and particulary John for coming back week after week to face the judges comments (and I hear some not so great comments from those behind the scenes as well) and doing what was expected of him... to dance to the best of HIS ability, AND he always came onto the floor and left the floor with a smile.


  • Comment number 11.

    I am with John Sergeant on this. He was in real danger of being voted in ahead of people who were actually in with a chance of winning. Had they then been voted out ahead of John, there would have been an even louder outcry.

    If I had been him, I would not have wanted to still be in while Christine or Jodie or any of the other four were voted out. That would indeed not have been funny, especially for him. Did anyone really want Gary Rhodes to be in any longer than he was?

    The judges have not missed the point at all. It is a dancing competition. Live with it! If it was not, then there would not be any judges scoring it, it would all be audience vote, and under those conditions there would not be a show.

    John is a wise man. Listen to what he said.

  • Comment number 12.

    John was unfairly treated by the judges - those they thought would do well were always given constructive criticism. The judges simply insulted him. The speed of the U turns and backtracking statements made by the judges (and a pro dancer) when John resigned from the show was quite breathtaking.

    If people want to watch a genuine dance competition they shouldn't really be watching SCD. This is entertainment and the competition element is not real - it's part of the entertainement.

  • Comment number 13.

    Lets step back and realise that what Paxman said is right. Essentially this smells of the BBC being unable to fix vote by telephone-poll rigging and so instead they get their way by offing a contestant publicly.

    Agreeing with skatysue. This isn't a competition of dancing skill. It's a peice of entertainment. So what if the lowest scored dancer wins.. big deal. They've won an entertainment show, not a dancing contest.

  • Comment number 14.

    John Sargeant leaving the show is a real disappointment to my family. We have enjoyed Strictly Come Dancing purely for its entertainment but it became less enjoyable when the judges' comments became very personable towards JS as oppose to being constructive. My family voted and rooted for John. I believe that prior to John's withdrawal from the show the judges' realised the backlash against them which made them give a better score on Saturday than they would have liked. They reminded me of a group of bullies who did their best to undermine the confidence of the victim but not succeeding. They have to look to themselves to why it became what John considered necessary to leave the show.
    I will watch John's farewell dance this Saturday only to see the Judges' falseness on their faces. Well done John for getting so far in the show. Whether I or my family will continue to watch remains to be decided.

  • Comment number 15.

    I'm really sorry to see JS go it was great entertainment.

    Did anyone else notice at the end of the sunday show when the celebs gathered round the evictee, that JS was frozen out every week, maybe this influenced his descion. If you have it recorded look back and notice, he is always on the outside, shame on them.

    John thanks for the efoort and the fun you gave us on Saturday evenings

  • Comment number 16.

    Sadly I agree with John in what he has done. The judge’s totally misunderstood what was happening.
    The disparaging judgements on the show and the vitriolic comments in the tabloid press by Arleen and Craig just fuelled the public’s support for the underdog. Had they just shut up and been objective John would, in all probability have been voted off weeks ago.
    The only person on the show who sees it for what it is, a Saturday evening entertainment show, is the consummate professional Bruce Forsyth. Maybe the judges should lighten up after all they are being paid handsomely to entertain not denigrate.

  • Comment number 17.

    So the BBC could not fix a result, immediately cried foul and got the contestant most likely to win an entertainment show, not a competition, booted off.

    It is such a shame that the charitable donations that come from telephone votes will now probably see a dip as viewers turn off the show and hang up their phones in support of salsa smoothie Sergeant.

  • Comment number 18.

    John Sergeant may not have been the best dancer and may not have deserved to win, but shows such as Strictly are not based on who is the most talented, but who the public want to vote for.

    Viewers who voted for John may have done so to keep him in for the next week, but some will have wanted to see him win, talented or not. This being the case, those viewers have now realised that they have wasted their money. Whilst John's decision may have nothing to do with the BBC, callers who did hope John to win have been conned out of their money, thinking that their vote would make a difference.

    Should they not be able to claim their money back, in exactly the same way they would were the results a fix?

  • Comment number 19.

    Personally, I saw very little entertainment in a 64-year old man butchering every dance he attempted! As John quite rightly said the joke was "wearing thin" and other, more accomplished, contestants were being booted out of the show too soon.

    I'd have preferred John not to have quit and for him to have been voted out a few weeks ago in a similar way Kate Garraway was previously, but I applaud him for throwing himself on his sword.

  • Comment number 20.

    I hate to be pedantic, but his name is SERGEANT!

    I don't think for one moment that John Sergeant was bullied into leaving the programme. It was obvious that the public vote was going to win him the show. A lot of people would have voted for him "for a laugh" and I think he knew that. Had the judges left well alone, the "genuine" public would have let him go in good time before the final.

    I wanted him to stay on the show - he was so entertaining, genuinely funny and with such a twinkle in his eye. And his dance last Saturday was terrific!

    I think Arlene Phillips should be dropped immediately, she has been utterly vicious this entire week. I'm not happy with Len Goodman or Craig-whatever either. They should hang their heads in shame.

    I will watch Saturday's show to see John and then that's it for me. The only power I have is with my remote control, and I think a lot of people will think the same way.

  • Comment number 21.

    What charitable donations???

    "Since January 2008, the BBC no longer gives money raised by phone votes to charity. The money raised by Strictly Come Dancing phone votes pays for running the phone vote system itself. No money goes to Children in Need. Rules were changed after last year's phone votes scandals."

  • Comment number 22.

    1. Mr. Sergeant is not the best dancer but he’s certainly the most intelligent dancer! That is why the viewing public liked him.

    2. The partnership between he and Kristina (she is a star!) is most beautiful one, like we are having Marilyn Monroe and Albert Einstein, and it is brilliantly funny and entertaining. Don’t we all need it at this hard time (Otherwise: Weather? Credit crisis? War? ...).

    3. I wouldn’t feel sorry for the other dancers. They are all so called “Celebrities”, should use their charm to win the viewers.

    4. Oh, judges please! This is a TV entertainment show! Why do you think so very highly of yourselves! You are only part of the show, and most importantly, we - the public are paying you to be there. We could vote you out if we wish to!

  • Comment number 23.

    My reason for watching the show is simply because its good fun, its light hearted entertainment. Perfect Saturday night TV. I don’t much about dancing, but have enjoyed watching all of the performances.

    With the way in which the judges have conducted themselves, plus Mr Jordan’s comments yesterday, this wonderful show is turning into something more like the X Factor. What standard of celebrity do we think will be on the show next year? Which respectable member is going to put themselves through this again, have a look at the cast for the recent series’ of Celebrity Big Brother and you might get the idea.

    John clearly went on the show to try and dance and have fun, all of that became irrelevant with the judges simply disregarding the rules and having over inflated opinions of themselves.

    The loser in all of this? Strictly Come Dancing, the show has lost something that it will never regain.

  • Comment number 24.

    Strictly is an entertainment show, but the entertainment is primarily in the form of dancing. The Producers need to think again about the voting system or select celebrities who are likely to compete the whole series, not just make up the numbers for the first few weeks.

    The start of Strcitly always brings with it a fear of dread at having to watch half the cast, with 2 left feet, stumble around the dancefloor for the next 6 weeks.

    I liked John, but it was painful to watch. Now the real dance competition can begin!

  • Comment number 25.

    I think the thing that's fascinated me the most is the way that a lot of people have reacted over it. Some of the comments I've read have been extremely strong, and I think probably out of proportion, although that is only my view.

    I love watching Strictly, and I've watched it every year. I don't watch a lot of tv these days, but this is something I have, and will gladly pay my tv licence for.

    The judges, as most people will observe really, have been no more harsh this series than they normally are, but the current climate of tv and radio shows has dictated a more sensititive situation. The BBC are indeed under much scrutiny after last months events. To start accusing them of bullying with this much vitreol, is too far. If more people have been voting just to annoy the judges, as has been suggested by other sources, then it doesn't matter what anyone else has done - the people who are voting seriously, and within the spirit of the programme are suffering because of people who haven't understood or are just being malicious.

    I can understand when a couple that you have been supporting get bad/harsh comments, or are voted out. Personally, my favourite couple this series have been Cherie and James, so my main disappointment was this weekend just gone. But this won't stop me from watching the show, and enjoying the dancing.

    If I wanted to watch a show with someone entertaining by just going along and playing a 'joke', I wouldn't be watching Strictly. Yes, it's entertainment, but it is also a dancing show. The judges are dance judges, so for them to lie every week and say that all the dancers are great and wonderful would be a lie and against why they are there. One of the points of the show is to see people learn and improve and get better, and then the person who's done this the best to win. Yes, the public have their say, but this year the voting has been more unusual than in past series.

    I cannot and will not deny that I have laughed, smiled, cringed, and complained, by watching John. He has worked hard, and he has improved somewhat and that is one of the points of the show. But in the end, it wasn't entertaining for me anymore, and would rather that he was voted out. I like all of the professional dancers, and I like all of the celebrities. I have my favourites, but I want dancing to be the winner in the end.

    Good luck John, and thank you for the fun.

  • Comment number 26.

    It's happened - it's past. Can we move on now?

  • Comment number 27.

    The show has this bizarre method of picking a winner by the combination of the quality of a dance and whoever the majority wants to win. The judges should expect that the bottom will not always be the two they have voted as the worst and be content with that, if they aren't they shouldn't be on the show.

    There is no issue whatsoever with the judges criticising a performance, in fact I don't think they are quite critical enough. The problem is when they begin to accuse 'the pubic's favourite' of reading newspapers when others are practicing and such like. This is an undermining of the rules and a direct manipulation of the fundaments of the show. The judges criticise the dance and chosse the weaker of the bottom two, nothing else.

    I personally think it would have been best for John to have been voted off last Saturday, as the timing would have been right, but more people wanted him to stay than anyone else in the show.

    If we continue with the attitude that there isn't a place for the weaker competitors we'll end up with Come Dancing; which I don't think would be anywhere near as successful.

  • Comment number 28.

    Does anyone remember Kelly Brook and the 3rd illegal lift getting a 10 from none other than Bruno!?

  • Comment number 29.

    It was a great shame that John was pressurized to leave. I voted for him because he demonstrated two important aspects of dancing; fun and entertainment. Come back John and do democracy a bit favour!

  • Comment number 30.

    Well it IS only a TV show - and not even a presidential election! However, if you involve the public in a voting process then you are not necessarily going to get the results that self-important judges might think they have a right to insist upon.
    I think an issue in the public's mind is one of perceived arrogance, especially when criticism becomes personal. Judges who simper, sneer or call a contestant a pig are throwing down a gauntlet and the public have picked this up smartly to support a bullied underdog. I'd echo a comment I read somewhere in an editorial - "John Sergeant is ME. He looks like me, dances like me - and when the judges are rude to him - they are being rude to me!"

  • Comment number 31.

    By Jhon Sergeant deciding to leave the show it has taken a element out of the show. Half fun is watching people who can't having a good try and seeing how far they get.

    The judges are there to judge the dacing, it would be a boring show if they were all nice to all dancers, they are part of what makes show it is.

    Has Strictly Come Dancing got to big for its own good?
    Why all the press is there noting else going on in the world,
    It started off in series one as a light hearted entertainment show helping to raise money for charity. Now it has become one BBC one's big saturaday ratting winners.

    Can SCD continue as it is for next series if there is going to be one?

  • Comment number 32.

    This is exactly what is going wrong in the UK -- Does everyone realise that this is just a TV show? I dont understand why politicians are commenting on the ability of the judges to judge.

    If people taking part in these shows feel they did not receive fair treatment then its their personal problem that they can deal with privately.

    When did the lives of anyone that has ever shown a face on TV become the business of everyone in the country?

  • Comment number 33.

    Oh Great, so now we have a (junior) minister saying that the judges should be sacked. I would have thought that Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy would have more important things on his mind. But no, a chance of raising his profile by jumping on the bandwagon is too good an opportunity to miss. With regards to John Sargeant, he has been fantastically entertaining and has shown he is a man of great dignity. The thing I will really miss is not seeing the lovely Kristina dancing again.

  • Comment number 34.

    This reminds me of X Factor. The Judges were rude about Daniel and said he shouldn't be there why put him as well as John Sergeant in the competition in the first place.

  • Comment number 35.

    Apologies if I've missed it, but as an ex-student myself I noticed that John's constituency was amongst Smart Alec undergraduates conspiring on Facebook/Bebo/et al. What a jolly wheeze? Keep the old Geezer in and annoy Auntie Beeb! There seems also to be a sizeable chunk of people saying that they enjoyed laughing at John? Not with him, AT him. Not very savoury. All calls raise money for Children in Need all the same.

    But...can we really allow a puerile prank by adolescents to be raised to some sort of "attack on democracy" debate? Or let those prepared to laugh at another person's incapacity have their way? Who will they pick next to "laugh at"?

    Anyway, all credit to John. He is a man for our times.

  • Comment number 36.

    It's not only about John Sergeant. Each year the judges have had popular contestants staying in the competition longer than they would have wished due to the public vote. The judges who ought to be more aware of the rules of the competition than anyone then seek to get that contestant eliminated by making outspoken, rude and intimidating personal remarks about the person with the intention of forcing the public to do what they the judges want.
    There is no doubt that either the judges are replaced with ones who understand the rules or they do their job i.e. judge the dancers and then shut up. Its the fault of the BBC which has given them too much air time & turned them into little icons. The competion is about the competitors NOT the judges!!!

  • Comment number 37.

    It is not only about John as each year the judges have had popular contestants staying in the competition longer than they would have wished due to the public vote. The judges who ought to be more aware of the rules of the competition than anyone then seek to get that contestant eliminated by making outspoken, rude and intimidating personal remarks about the person with the intention of forcing the public to do what they the judges want.
    There is no doubt that either the judges are replaced with ones who understand the rules or they do their job i.e. judge the dancers and then shut up. Its the fault of the BBC which has given them too much air time & turned them into little icons. The competion is about the competitors not the judges!!!

  • Comment number 38.

    It is not only about John as each year the judges have had popular contestants staying in the competition longer than they would have wished due to the public vote. The judges who ought to be more aware of the rules of the competition than anyone then seek to get that contestant eliminated by making outspoken, rude and intimidating personal remarks about the person with the intention of forcing the public to do what they the judges want.
    There is no doubt that either the judges are replaced with ones who understand the rules or they do their job i.e. judge the dancers & then shut up. It is the fault of the BBC which has given them too much air time and turned them into little icons. The competion is about the competitors not the judges!!!

  • Comment number 39.

    In response to SheffTim posting - The best argument for democracy would have been a 5 minute conversation with Winston Churchill.

  • Comment number 40.

    This is all the circus element of Bread and Circuses.

  • Comment number 41.

    I'm glad to see that the British public is continuing its fine tradition of getting worked up over issues that don't matter at all.

    Britain, you are reliable, predictable and completely misguided. How about getting worked up over things that are actually worth our consideration, rather than getting upset about a man leaving a game show of his own volition.

    For shame!

  • Comment number 42.

    I'm getting increasingly bored of people commenting that it's purely an entertainment show and not really a dance contest.

    It's called Strictly Come DANCING. It has professional judges.
    I used to watch it. I *did* find it entertaining to see people who you didn't expect to be very good at all suddenly grasp it.

    Darren Gough.... wow! I loved the series he was in because at first he didn't really take it seriously. Then you realised this very big and burly sportsman actually had a knack for dancing.

    Then in subsequent years I just got bored of the show, as I found the good/interesting dancers kept losing out to the underdogs that kept getting saved by the public vote.

    If nothing else, I think that constantly voting in the dancer who is either the worst or the judges' least favourite is actually cruel on the contestant.
    When somebody is so bad that even Len and Bruno rarely stick up for them, then voting them out is actually the kindest solution.

    I think Chris Moyles put it best on the radio this week. Between getting a slating from staying in then people criticising his leaving, he must feel like he can't win.

    ( pun intended)

    To be honest, I agree with John's own summary of it being 'a joke too far'.
    He's shown that you don't have to be great to enjoy it. He's shown that it's a great method of exercise. But this far in, the actual talent is supposed to rise to the top.

  • Comment number 43.

    The John Sergeant “should he stay or should he go” fiasco was none of John’s doing but is a direct result of a flawed voting system for which the programme makers are responsible. Each week, when the goal is to eliminate just one couple from the competition, with reverse logic the public are asked to vote for the couple or couples they want to go through to the next round and not for the couple they want eliminated which would be more to the point. This makes it very easy for mischief makers in the media, such as DJs on national and local radio, to start a campaign to get the public to vote for the “joker in the pack” in order to make a mockery of the programme as has occurred more than ever during this series but also afflicted previous series with Kate Garraway and Christopher Parker being two names that spring to mind. The results would be much harder to manipulate, and probably too much trouble to go to, if the public were asked to vote each round for one and only one couple to be eliminated, which is of course equivalent to voting for the “n-1” couples the public would rather go through to the next round. As things stand the true dance fans will vote for the couples they think performed the best during that particular week and will switch votes week to week as performances vary. This makes any couple in about fourth position downwards in terms of the judges’ votes, which could include the “best celebrity dancer” having just performed their “weakest” dance, especially vulnerable to the large vote for the “joker in the pack” which includes votes from people that don’t even watch the show and aren’t actually interested in dance. Now, if every voter voted for “n-1” couples, which might be a significant cost to some people, and not just one or two or three this wouldn’t be a problem. Furthermore, it can hardly be a fair and democratic voting system that allows people to vote as many times as they like and for the same candidate. Someone with money to spare can just keep on phoning for the same celebrity at the expense of celebrities who may in fact be much more popular amongst the wider audience. I have only ever voted a couple of times and that was in previous series. I will not vote again until a new public voting system is instigated where the power of the anarchy vote is greatly reduced. The same old nonsensical arguments will continue to occur series after series, with the name of John Sergeant being substituted by another (Anne Widdecombe, David Dimbleby, Sir Trevor McDonald ?) until such a change is made. The programme makers must be absolutely loving it, though, the way things are. But, they can’t fool all the people all the time.

  • Comment number 44.

    At least John S did the right thing, but regards the vote money. Why not donate it to charity?

    It can be done and who would disagree?

  • Comment number 45.

    Sorry, but how insulting is all this to the other contestants. What everyone seems to be saying is that only John was entertaining on the show! To me the whole show is entertaining and the final idea is to have the best dancer win it.

    I enjoyed watching John on the show and had plenty of laughs along the way (Paso Dobla????). Certainly do not agree with him quitting himself, and doubt that any of the other contestants wanted this to happen, but the truth is he should have been off the show at least two weeks ago. We certainly did not want another Christopher Parker!!!!

  • Comment number 46.

    It has always been the case that the technically best have been voted off in favour of whom the public wish to support. John Sergeant just spectacularly highlighted this.
    If the BBC only want the judges' choice they shouldn't take money off of phone calls.

    It would be far better to abolish the judges and replace with a single 'observer' such as Bruce Forsyth and leave the decision to the public

  • Comment number 47.

    The only shame in this is that this pathetic 'story' reaches the front pages of newspapers.

  • Comment number 48.

    This is an entertainment show and John Sergeant has provided the most entertaining performance by far and is an endearing character which has resonated with the public.

    If it was a proper dance competition they’d have to have proper judges ………

  • Comment number 49.

    The trouble with these shows is that they start off with judges who are unknown, or at best "C" list celebs, with ambition promote themselves. They follow the Simon Cowell controversial and rude model to make names for themselves. This gets the public backing a totally outclassed underdog so they can enjoy more of the same next week.

    It is light entertainment and could work, while still maintaining the precious ratings, if the judges on board delivered objective but considerate evaluations rather than seeking to make a name for themselves.

  • Comment number 50.

    Thank the Lord and all that is sacred that this arrogant man has finally left the show.

    I never found him entertaining in the slightest and felt cheated when much better dancers were voted off, just so that his ego could be saved.

    He should watch the reruns of his attempt at dancing and he will see what a fool he has made of himself, the general public were not saving him, they were ridiculing him.

    Now let's watch some real dancing, after all, that IS what the show is all about.

  • Comment number 51.

    Dance started as a rhythmic extension to music, moving it from the mental to physical - an extension of tapping ones foot to keep the beat and swaying while playing wind instruments. For centuries it was at best a folk art, sometimes a little theatrical, until it became a popular indoor activity in the eighteenth century spa towns of England and Germany. The indoor nature meant it had to be a bit more organised, as there was insufficient space for everyone doing their own thing.
    The next stage of this regimentation was that the musical constraint of a particular beat dictated particular footwork, and to that dress and posture were added, until we reached the ridiculous cult status of the 1940s, where the bulk of the population were told they could not dance as a matter of social discrimination. That was nonsense, and the ballroom group lost the argument in the 1950s in favour of the early club scenes, which they attempted to domineer as well, unsuccessfully - there are jive steps, for instance, but nothing since the twist!
    The only place these dances are now found in the general population are in masonic circles. Even Corporate institutions have abandoned the Christmas Dance, and few society balls continue, as the kids aren't interested either.
    So why continue? We mock folk dance as unrepresentative, but they're more accessible (see the current Haka rugby debate) than this is - the judges are all self-interested, running their own schools, and this is the last gasp of a discredited activity. Maybe they claim it has sparked a fresh interest, but I don't think so, the newspapers aren't full of social dance advertisements before Christmas. For that, they'd need millions in their schools, not dozens, and it's clear that hasn't happened.
    Perhaps the next edition could be Strictly Scottish, or Strictly Garage, or Strictly Maypole. Now that would be interesting, watching Bill Oddie writhe in torment...

  • Comment number 52.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 53.

    The public has a visceral need, especially in gloomy times such as these, to see justice done, whether by hangman's noose or touch-tone telephone. Light entertainment shows these may be, but those whom the public chooses as winners are invariably those who have conducted themselves most graciously throughout.

    These shows, however lightheartedly, affirm our moral values. They are a way of us all saying, with one voice, that we agree that the good guy should always win. We as a society say this, and we are in charge. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves, and our superiors, of this.

    And all participants (judges please take note) are on trial, not just competitors.

  • Comment number 54.

    Christine Bleakley has become a much more subtle version of John Sergeant. She is clearly not the best dancer and was voted last by the judges but is canvassing votes on her national TV programme, The One Show, and is therefore a likely, and possibly unjust, winner.

  • Comment number 55.

    I am glad John quit he was becoming an embarrasment, Florence

  • Comment number 56.

    I don’t agree. I think John Sargeant should be made to dance, and prodded with electronic cattle rods or have Mexican bandits shooting at his feet if necessary.

    Every other channel has its freak show, why can’t BBC1?

  • Comment number 57.

    I think John stepped down of his own volition, I don't see who else could have made him leave. He obviously expected to go after one or two weeks and is now embarrassed that the good dancers can't continue.
    If viewers are angry, they should be angry with John !


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