YOU still think Tony Adams can’t dance? Let me tell you, that man is the Nijinsky of the North Bank.
Or at least, he is compared to the unequal struggle I’m watching here.
Tess Daly trying to tell a joke.
She’s just delivered this set-up, with all the warmth and flair of the old Grandstand vidiprinter: “The entire ballroom’s been given a Halloween makeover tonight . . .”
Now I’m waiting, while Tess’s eyeballs roll back in her skull and she prepares to hit me with the pay-off.
And waiting. And waiting.
So, while Tess primes herself, I’ll crack on with the rest of Saturday’s Strictly Come Dancing Halloween “Spook-tacular” which is always one of the most hateful nights of the television year, what with all the puns, costumes, music and Martin Fowler dressed as a bee-keeper, for reasons that are never properly explained.
They compounded all the usual aggravations this year, though, by getting the show’s MVP Tony Adams and partner Katya Jones to open the show with a quickstep to The Devil Went Down To Georgia.
To these untrained eyes, it looked a bit more like Jimmy Nail went down to Burton’s menswear for the annual trolley-dash. But the far more frightening thing, which I hadn’t factored into any equation, was the awful, dawning realisation that donkey Adams can now dance.
Quite well, as it happens. With his head mostly pointing in the right direction.
To the extent that, at the end of the dance, acclaim was universal and the judges gave him 31/40.
For Tony, this represented something of a triumph against the odds and could help propel him to the most unlikely victory in the show’s history. From an entirely selfish point of view, however, it’s a matter for some regret.
For, since week one’s tango, it’s been very apparent Tony was the only show in town. With every dance he found new ways of proving the point, culminating in last Saturday’s epic Grandstand-themed cha-cha-cha where the big fella’s erratic Cuban breaks and New Yorkers left poor Katya so disorientated she took an air swipe at a plastic football and the judges so helpless with laughter, they couldn’t even raise their scoring paddles properly at the end.
It was the most joyful live television moment of the year.
But for those of us who’d like him to win the funny way, I’m also now starting to think it could have been the beginning of the end for Strictly 2022.
Because, without Tony’s comedy interludes, the show has precisely nothing to offer casual viewers like me.
Part of this is down to the natural wear and tear that eventually blights all long- running hits, particularly on the judging panel where they’re now overrun with egomaniacs (Anton) and show-offs (sit down Motsi and Shirley) who are playing to Strictly’s least important element, the studio audience.
So bad has it become, in fact, even the one person who can usually be relied upon to tell the unvarnished truth, Craig Revel Horwood, seems to have been worn down by the relentless, heckling sycophancy of the other three and bored with the process of telling Fleur East to: “Keep your legs together.”
The far more significant factor, though, was the way the BBC self-sabotaged the series from the off, by shoehorning together entirely unsuitable couples, like Richie Anderson and Giovanni Pernice, in the wokest and dullest line-up yet.
A move which might have made them burst with self-righteous “inclusive” pride, but, at a stroke, also killed the possibility of shenanigans, gossip, scandal and all those other things that add to this show’s incredible intrigue.
We’re now left with the first Strictly ever to be devoid of any visible sexual tension.
News that’ll no doubt delight the BBC press office, who’ve been sucking the joy out of life since 1922, but isn’t much help to those of us who’ve marvelled at its previous ability to take a perfectly hopeless-looking booking, like Seann Walsh, and turn him into must-watch television.
Sadly, there is no Seann Walsh this year, nor any chance of Hamza Yassin seeing a shag this side of the Isle of Rum nature reserve. All it’s got is Tony Adams and the host who’s still wrestling with that punchline of hers.
Take it away, girl.
“The entire ballroom’s been given a Halloween makeover tonight, except Craig’s 10 paddle . . . that was already covered in cobwebs.”
You kill me, Tess.
TELLY quiz. What was Autumnwatch host Michaela Strachan talking about here, last week: “Let’s face it, if you want to be a researcher of them, you’ve got to be prepared to study tiny genitalia”?
B) Pitbull terrier owners.
C) Bernie Ecclestone’s former son-in-law James Stunt.
Salute to the heroes
ROUGHLY once every ten years, having exhausted all policing possibilities, the BBC remembers men also watch television and throws us a long-running dramatic bone.
This decade’s Peaky Blinders could be SAS Rogue Heroes, starring Connor Swindells and Jack O’Connell, where they tell the remarkable story of David Stirling, Paddy Mayne and the other regiment legends who helped turn World War Two’s North Africa campaign.
A historical fact that shouldn’t be the cause for anything other than overwhelming pride, yet it began with BBC1’s continuity announcer issuing a warning about “violence” and “upsetting scenes”, for the benefit, presumably, of those viewers who thought the SAS talked the Germans into surrendering by workshopping their anger-management issues in a safe-space environment.
Similar instincts, I suspect, were behind the invention of the Eve Mansour character, an ’Allo ’Allo figure from French intelligence, played by Sofia Boutella, who seems to have General de Gaulle on speed dial.
Because without her, the only talking woman would’ve been Jock Lewes’ girlfriend, Mirren, who detonated his “trouser bomb” in the back of a limo during episode four, with my favourite exchange of the series.
“Goodness. What a lot . . . ”
I hope that doesn’t put you off watching Rogue Heroes, though.
It may start in slightly apologetic and over-stylised fashion but, by episode three, it’s turned into a hugely entertaining drama, and come the sixth, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be hoping for a second series.
Go on, steel yourself, Auntie.
Unexpected morons in bagging area
THE Chase: Celebrity Special, Bradley Walsh: “Which British beauty entrepreneur treated her autobiography with her Pomelo perfume?”
Chizzy Akudolu: “Pablo Picasso.”
Tipping Point, Ben Shephard: “Ancient Roman writers described which city as ‘the Eternal City’?”
The Chase, Bradley Walsh: “In a 17th Century Rembrandt painting, a sleeping Samson is resting on which woman?”
Andy: “Mother Teresa.”
Random TV irritations
ROGUE Heroes’ beards looking like they’d been salvaged from Carry On Up The Khyber.
Strictly Come Dancing’s Halloween make-up department transforming poor Shirley Ballas into Ghislaine Maxwell on remand.
Tony Robinson grovelling to Greta Thunberg on The One Show, in the most demeaning way.
All of those fun-sponges who are trying to petition Matt Hancock out of I’m A Celebrity.
And Jonathan Ross guest Tom Daley feeling the need to remind us: “I bloody love knitting.”
WE KNOW, WE KNOW. WE BLOODY WELL KNOW, TOM.
ON Channel 4’s How To Survive A Dictator, sort-of-comedian Munya Chawawa investigated Robert Mugabe who starved, murdered and tortured thousands of his fellow Zimbabweans and then piled the blame for the old monster’s actions on to . . .
Go on, take a wild guess.
“Britain”, which, according to Munya, is “implicated at every key point in Zimbabwe’s story” due to “the repercussions and scars left by colonialism”.
How other ex-colonies avoided being run by genocidal psychopaths wasn’t explained. Nor did Munya say how he squared this “route one” wokery with what must be the daily “torment” of continuing to live among his colonial oppressors in Britain, the country which actually saved his ungrateful little arse from Mugabe’s henchmen.
Maybe he’ll elaborate next time. Then again, he won’t.
INCIDENTALLY, I have not a shred of evidence to suggest Gina Coladangelo threw reason and good taste to one side and told her d***wit boyfriend: “ITV viewers need to see the real Matt Hancock.” But if she did, thank you, thank you, thank you. I have genuinely never looked forward to a television show more in my entire career (I’m A Celebrity . . . Get Me Out Of Here!, ITV, Sunday, 9pm).
Great sporting insights
NUBAID HAROON: “I’m going to put the message out there. I think he might have accidentally kind of meant it.”
Gary Lineker: “Callum Wilson has had six games in his last nine goals.” Ian Wright: James Maddison got a good bird’s eye view of it because he’s lying down under it.”
(Compiled by Graham Wray)
THE One Show interview of the week, from Cormonachan forest, in Argyll & Bute.
Lucy Siegle: “What makes this a rainforest?”
George: “There’s a lot of rainfall.”
EPISODE one of the second White Lotus series, on Sky Atlantic, hooking me in as brilliantly as the first.
Michael McIntyre’s impeccable handling of The Wheel.
Jimmy Carr still hitting all the right targets on I Can See Your Voice: “Confidence is not always a good thing. Alison Hammond, everyone.” And former Sardinian police chief Antonio Pitea providing the only worthwhile contribution to Channel 4’s Italia 90: When Football Changed Forever: “The England fans were all obese. All of them. Huge bellies. It was hard to beat them up, trust me.”
Oh I do, Antonio. I do.
CLARIFICATION required re: Make Me Prime Minister, Alastair Campbell: “If someone from Mars landed now and watched this, they’d think Kelly was a politician.”
’Cos, if someone from Mars landed now and watched this, they’d sod off to Canis Major, as fast as their little green legs could carry them and we’d never see them again.
Lookalike of the week
THIS week’s winner is Jo Brand and Maz Kanata from Star Wars.
Emailed in by Jez Marshall.
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