Sport on TV: It's strictly business as Olympic dreams turn to golden sequins

Darts at Alexandra "Ally Pally" Palace? Whatever next? Surely it would be a more suitable venue for 'Strictly Come Dancing'. Yet the Queen is apparently a big fan of the arrows, and Ladbrokes asked her if she would like to attend the PDC Darts Championship. Buckingham Palace could be the next step, with Phil "The Power" Taylor taking on Elizabeth "The Real Power" Windsor. But the Queen may find her crown jewels are rather outshone by the bling of her rivals.

Both darts and ballroom dancing are trying to be included in the Olympic Games and want to be taken seriously as sports. Three years ago, UK Sport recognised darts as a genuine sport. It has the second highest audience on Sky Sports after football and it has cleaned up its act since the days of boozing and smoking on the oche. Darters walk some 16 miles to and from the board during a tournament. And think of the strain on their arms, holding up all that jewellery, even if they are not lifting pints any more.

Televisual appeal is crucial. The International Olympic Committee, who renamed ballroom dancing as "dancesport", said it had to increase its audience. Yet 11 million people tuned into the BBC's 'Strictly' final last Saturday, a shade off 50 per cent of the entire share. 'The Strictly Come Dancing Story' (BBC1, Friday) told how the Beeb has sold the programme to 31 countries.

'Strictly's' Christmas Special (BBC1, Wednesday) saw the return of cricket's champion dancers Darren Gough and Mark Ramprakash. It was Gough who transformed the show as the first male winner. "I'm a Barnsley boy, the son of a miner, I've got a reputation to keep," he said, but he admitted that after his second dance, "I thought, 'This was me'. As soon as the music started, I was in my sportsman's zone".

Colin Jackson, beaten by Gough in the 2005 final, said that the ballroom was an ideal environment for sportsmen (Ramprakash beat rugby's Matt Dawson in the 2006 final). "We're used to being coached," said the Olympic hurdler. "Our brains are programmed to reproduce under pressure, that's what we do day in, day out."

The shy Ramprakash was the exact opposite of the brash Gough in terms of character. But he was a revelation on the dancefloor. His partner, Karen Hardy, said: "It allowed him to come out of who he was, and that's what dance does." It affords you the same escapism that more mainstream sports do.

So, how to convince the IOC? How to draw in even higher viewing figures? Perhaps reality TV commissioners could combine darts and ballroom. Both outfits are sequined, there's plenty of chest hair on view and Sid Waddell is always shouting: "What a big leg this is!" Dancers could shimmy up and down in front of the oche, dodging the darts, or better still, how about 'Strictly Come Darting'? After his strict dieting, Andy Fordham being swept off his feet by Disney's Hyacinth Hippo?

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: 3D CAD Designer - Exhibition Stands

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Rapid growth has seen a number ...

Guru Careers: Graduate Software Developer / Junior Developer

£20 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Software Develop...

Recruitment Genius: Delegate Telesales Executive - OTE £21,000 uncapped

£16000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: High quality, dedicated Delegat...

Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor