Strictly Come Dancing and John Sergeant Should Put Audience First


I don’t watch Strictly Come Dancing.  I’ve nothing against it; it’s just not my sort of programme.  Usually I don’t approve of people commenting on TV, films, radio, books they have not watched, heard or read.  But on this occasion, I think I can comment even with limited information.

This is what I know about Strictly Come Dancing;

• the only two participants I know about are Christine Blakely and John Sergeant,
• it’s in BBC 1 on Saturday evenings with related programmes on BBC 2 sometime during the week,
• there is a panel of experts who act as Judges,
• the audience vote for their favourite and the audiences text votes are the final word on who wins.

If any of those points are inaccurate, please use the Comments to correct me.

The final point is the most important.  This is a programme where the Audience decides the outcome.  If this is a programme about “best dancer” then the Audience should not have the final word.  Frankly what do they know?  My vote is equal to an expert’s vote – I know nothing about ballroom dancing.

So the audience vote for the dancer they favour.  They will not vote for the Best Dancer – because they will not know who the best dancer is.  The general public comprises millions of experts, but as a group they are not experts in anything apart from being expert in what they like.

Voting for John Sergeant makes a mockery of Strictly? Then choosing John Sergeant as a contestant makes a mockery of Strictly – the audience did not chose the contestants, the BBC did and the contestants accepted.  That’s their choosing job done – now leave it to the experts – the Audience, experts in what they like.  "He was put in the most awkward position, looking at the other dancers and knowing they were better than him," Forsyth said. "He must have felt guilty in a way."  Well, Brucie, he shouldn’t have been invited in the first place.  And unless he was prepared to see it through, he shouldn’t have accepted.  Following that logic, both the invitation and the acceptance was "awkward".

The BBC is reported to have plans to refund the cost of voting for Sergeant to the Audience.  Yes, they should, but that totally misses the point of an audience participation programme.  The Audience’s investment is not just the cost of the texts.  They pay the licence fee which pays for the programme including the Contestants’ fees.  They talk about the programme, and for all I know Tweet, blog and certainly club up in Facebook to write about it – thereby promoting the programme at no expense to the BBC.

Sure, this isn’t even close to the phone-in scandals last year. 
Sure, no-one is hurt and no ambulances have been called. 
Sure, John Sergeant has provided entertainment for millions.

But the point is that the producers, the BBC and John Sergeant have failed to see that this is a programme where the audience have at the very least a share equal to the total share of the BBC, the producers and the contestants. 

They are the one – to use the old movie term – who call the shots.

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