Editor-At-Large: Take your partners, please, and marvel at the campest, sexiest show on television

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Some things in life are so unexpected, they knock you for six.Forget the tears and timbales, the raging and risottos in Gordon Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen. A series hosted by old lantern-jaw himself, Bruce Forsyth, is the best thing on television right now. Every now and then the BBC comes up with an idea that makes the licence fee worth it. It makes all their self-congratulatory promotions tolerable. Strictly Come Dancing, beamed to your living-room each Saturday night from the unlikely venue of the Town Ballroom in Blackpool, marries celebrities with the extraordinary world of competitive ballroom dancing, with its fixed grins, sequins, robotic swirls and swoops. It has borrowed a few tricks from reality shows such as Pop Idol, with a jury of cheerless snarling experts, a large audience who clearly love the show and a sense of ruthlessness that dominates the proceedings. Phone voting by viewers makes up 50 per cent of the score, but the professional marking system, like that of ice-dancing, is an unfatho

Some things in life are so unexpected, they knock you for six.Forget the tears and timbales, the raging and risottos in Gordon Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen. A series hosted by old lantern-jaw himself, Bruce Forsyth, is the best thing on television right now. Every now and then the BBC comes up with an idea that makes the licence fee worth it. It makes all their self-congratulatory promotions tolerable. Strictly Come Dancing, beamed to your living-room each Saturday night from the unlikely venue of the Town Ballroom in Blackpool, marries celebrities with the extraordinary world of competitive ballroom dancing, with its fixed grins, sequins, robotic swirls and swoops. It has borrowed a few tricks from reality shows such as Pop Idol, with a jury of cheerless snarling experts, a large audience who clearly love the show and a sense of ruthlessness that dominates the proceedings. Phone voting by viewers makes up 50 per cent of the score, but the professional marking system, like that of ice-dancing, is an unfathomable mystery. Nit-picking conservative Len Goodman, the sarkiest of the judges, comes up with chestnuts like: "You've included too many gimmicks and I'm going to have to penalise you heavily for your lifts!"

Full marks must go to all the amateurs who have participated in this exercise, spending five weeks in training and fitting it around their real jobs as newsreaders, sportsmen and opera singers. It's easy to knock people like David Dickinson, the antiques expert who looks the colour of an old leather handbag and whose on-screen charm washes over me like a tidal wave of cooking oil. And, quite frankly, Christopher Parker from EastEnders and the newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky were never going to be people that I'd pick up the remote for. But they've demonstrated new skills and sheer bravado that you won't find anywhere else on the box. It takes huge guts to partner smarmily self-confident ballroom dancing professionals, with their giant egos and appalling hairstyles, but the amateurs have gone for it. As a result, we really care about their progress. I felt a little pang of sorrow the other week when Mr Well-Worn-Handbag got voted off the show as nasty Len attacked him for being "too nice".

There are only two problems with Strictly Come Dancing. The first is that it ends on 3 July with just two couples battling it out in the final; and the second, and more worrying item on the agenda, is Bruce himself. The man is past it, panicking like mad as elements in the programme run over their allotted time, making nervous and unfunny quips, and displaying all the confidence of an elderly rabbit caught in the car headlights. I'm not being ageist, and nor do I want "youth" to be fronting this show, but why not promote Tess Daly, who is consigned to playing yet another version of Anthea Redfern in the long chain of Bruce's females? It's a concept that's long past its sell-by date. Strictly Come Dancing is camp, sexy and appealing to all ages. This is true popular entertainment and doesn't need the fig-leaf of Uncle Bruce to prop it up.

Meanwhile, I may have failed at both ballet and tap as a gawky eight-year-old, but I'm busy practising the quickstep in my living room and waiting for that phone call from the BBC - I'm available and willing!

Rubbish art

The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is a chance for a lot of elderly artists to oust Tracey, Damien and their chums from the headlines. The show this year, chosen by the academicians David Hockney and Allen Jones, has drawing as its theme. Sadly, there's just as much crap on show as ever, stacked up and fighting for attention. Funnily enough, it is the work of non-artists, from the scientist John Sulston, founder of the human genome project, to the heart surgeon Dr Francis Wells, that makes this dog's dinner of an exhibition worth the trip. It is certainly not to see the six watercolours of courtyards in Spain by Hockney, or the many exhibits by Jones, which show he's still giving us versions of the same couple dancing that we saw 20 years ago. Jones has put a lot of thought into curating this show and it's a shame he couldn't display the same strength of purpose that his non-artists have. This is clearly a case of less meaning more.

The idea proposed by the Australian art critic Robert Hughes at the dinner to celebrate the show's opening, that the Royal Academy should be a stronghold for the best contemporary art, to fight the power of collectors, is never going to get off the starting blocks while it is dominated by academicians in the twilight of their years and their talent, from Anthony Green, Leonard McComb to Ivor Abrahams.

The best painting in the show is by Jenny Saville: a huge head that stares balefully out at the visitor. But by the time any one's reached it, they will be suffering from a surfeit of RA (rubbish art).

Camden Council wants ASBOs (anti-social behaviour orders which restrict movement in a proscribed area) served on record company executives who pay for illegal fly-posting of their artists in the neighbourhood. Can I propose another solution? In the US Martha Stewart is apparently trying to reduce her imminent jail sentence by offering to teach women how to start their own businesses. She proposes spending a considerable amount of time in the next two years teaching cleaning and cooking to underprivileged women. It seems a positive solution. So instead of dishing out ASBOs, Camden could get the record companies to run music workshops for bored teenagers. It might get them off the streets and out of trouble.

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