Tuesday, 14 September 2010

To See You - Nice!


So it’s back again. That show which cheekily took its name from the Strictly blog. With a new set, a new format, and a cull of several of the most popular pro dancers.

But some things never change: Brucie’s back – albeit only for the Saturday show – and Tess towers over him as ever, resplendent in aqua. The four judges -Bruno ‘Hyper’ Tonioli, Len ‘The Charm’ Goodman, Alesha ‘Extensions’ Dixon and Craig ‘Char-char-char, dahling’ Revel Horwood - are ready with sharp eyes, tongues and nails, poised to pounce on any mistakes (rather as the sadly-missed Arlene Phillips used to pounce on the hunky male dancers).

And where would the show be without its contestants? This year’s haul includes Pamela Stephenson (self-styled Hollywood sex psychotherapist and wife of Billy Connolly), the ubiquitous magician Paul ‘Not A Lot’ Daniels , the actor Felicity ‘Good Life’ Kendal, Peter ‘Hand of God’ Shilton and Patsy ‘Oasis’ Kensit.

And then there’s Ann Widdecombe.

Yes, the politician. The pocket rocket. Diminutive of stature, giant of mouth. Writer of four novels, participant in Celebrity Fit Club and changer of image extraordinaire. Who, you might ask, would be a worthy partner for Ann?

Enter Anton du Beke. Born Anthony Beke. Shares Brucie’s humour – and, unfortunately, his profile. Oldest dancer in the show. Dances the foxtrot like Fred Astaire, and the latin like, er, someone who hates latin dancing.

Already, Ann and Anton are generating more column inches than any of the other more glamorous couplings. Already, Ann’s refused to dance a particular move in the group dance, because she considers it improper. She has banned any clothing that might be considered 'immodest' and has refused the use of fake tan. Stately as a galleon, she will sail through the opening round of the competition purely on the basis of her wry wit and her X factor. Eccentricity factor, that is.

Not for me the size zero soapstar beauties with their chest-waxed, spray-tanned partners. For pure entertainment, give me the Ann Widdecombes, the John Sergeants, the Julian Clarys of this world. Which leads me to think about character, and odd couples in fiction. Eccentricity, for me, is the defining factor. I’d rather remember a character for her rapier wit, her difference from the crowd, than for her beauty and grace. Jo in Little Women was always more interesting to me than Amy or Beth, just as Katherine Hepburn was infinitely more entertaining than Marilyn Monroe.

And when you couple them up, you really start cooking on gas. Who cares about Romeo and Juliet when you can have Othello and Desdemona? Where’s the charm of Cinderella and her Prince, set against the darker enticement of Beauty and The Beast? Jane Eyre and Rochester beat Catherine and Heathcliff hands down, in my opinion, just as Homer and Marge Simpson tower above Fred and Wilma Flintstone and Bill and Ben fade into insignificance against Kermit and Miss Piggy. And Tom and Barbara Goode (sorry, Felicity) were pygmies compared with Basil and Sybil Fawlty.

The defining thing about eccentric couples seems to come down to conflict. Nicey-nice couples do not great literature make. Whilst in real life, being of one mind may be the stuff of golden wedding aniversaries, in fiction it’s the differences that make the reader read on – even if it’s just to see whether they’re ever resolved.

So dance your heart out, Ann and Anton, and ignore the barbs. Because one thing’s for sure: it’ll be you that the nation remembers, long after the spray tan’s faded and the glitterball’s twinkled its last.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I dunno, Susie, i think it'll take me a long time to forget the moves of sex-on-a-stick Jimi Mistry...:)

You're right though, as in real life, it's the eccentricities (and usually the more understated ones) that are fascinating to a reader.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous is Sam, btw:)

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Yay, Sam - great to 'see' you!! I think we two may be the only SCD fans on Strictly (*sigh*).
Susiex

Anonymous said...

*waves* hi Susie:)

Great line-up this year and at least they don't auto-dance them, like the X-factor auto-tunes. We get to see them warts and all.

I love Widdy, hugely admire her attitude and wish i had as few neuroses as her.

Helen Black said...

I think that's the thig with reality TV in general.
We tune in for the personalities and the conflict they generate, the adversities they face.
Whether they are learning to dance, skate or eat maggots in the jungle is almost unimportant. Just backdrop. It's the human dilema we want.
HB x

Elen Caldecott said...

Thanks for this post!!!
My current WIP was lacking a bit of pizzazz and your 'odd couple' comment has just made little explosions of ideas go off in my head. Yay!

Caroline Green said...

I've never seen the programme but I've really enjoyed your description Susie!

Roderic Vincent said...

I'm far too much of a snob to admit that I would watch this, so I've no idea what you are talking about. I do know that I enjoy reading just about anything that comes out of your pen, Susie. I love your style.

Debs Riccio said...

Hear hear, Susie - I'm with you all the way - I'm one of the biggest fans of unsympathetic and/or unusual characters - and if they come as a pair then even moreso! Great post!

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Aw, thanks all! And very glad to hear about the little explosions, Elen! :)
Susiex

molly said...

I have to say that I would never have expected Ann Widecombe to appear on Strictly Come Dancing, ever! But good on her, I am sure she will provide us with some entertainment.

debutnovelist said...

Great post, Susie - I was wondering how you would bring it back to writing and you did so with such a graceful twirl. Fa-bu-lous!
AliB

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Molly, rumour has it that she thought it 'undignified' for a while, but something clearly changed her mind.
Ali, the structure of this post has been rather Widdecombish and abrupt - like herself, I didn't really know in which direction I was going!
Susiex