Sophie Morris: Sorry, John – but it's right for you to go

Share
Related Topics

Am I the only Strictly fan to welcome the news that John Sergeant is quitting the show? It's not that I don't like Sergeant. I too find his dancing bear antics and sausage grin as endearing as the rest of the country, but the judges have a point – the show is about the dancing – just not for the reasons they think it is.

How else could I justify tuning into what is called – mistakenly by the way – a "reality" show, were it not for the dancing? You won't find me camping out in front of Big Brother, and there's no chance I'll ever be able to tell one bland-with-a-big-voice X-Factor contestant from the next.

But Strictly? It's not reality, it's surreality and unreality having a game of fisticuffs on a well-polished dancefloor. To alight on that studio festooned with spotlights and sequins is to fall down a rabbit hole and never, ever want to find your way out again.

The contestants experience this delicious limbo until they lose the dance-off, but for viewers the only way to maintain the fantasy is for as many half-decent dancers as possible to remain in the competition each week.

Which means Sergeant had to go. Not because of all that fussing over footwork and posture and timing that the judges drone on about, but because he wasn't playing the game. His putzy steps and nodding puppet's head, even when partnered with Kristina Rihanoff, a real-life Jessica Rabbit, just don't keep the dream alive.

Where the judges do make a sound point is in stressing the importance of acting during each dance. They emphasise that drama plays a vital role in pulling off a high-scoring performance. To win over Arlene Phillips's carping and Craig Revel Horwood's studied disdain is one thing, but the real job of those contestants is to transport the studio audience and viewers at home to the injured, brooding heart of that tango (as Austin Healey did rousingly last week), and give fans a little flavour of Brazil at carnival time a la Lisa Snowdon's samba, despite its poor reception with the judges.

But that's part of their job. Snowdon has been tipped for the final on more than one occasion: best to knock her off those long legs of hers for a week or two and keep us, and the bookies, guessing. But Sergeant refused to mount the Strictly carousel from week to week. Instead he spluttered along like an old steam engine.

This might have provided the ample controversy that the rest of the BBC could feed off in its many news programmes, but Sergeant's dedication to sprinkling a little stardust over dark Saturday evenings is simply not up to scratch. He'd be great in the jungle eating kangaroo bollocks and wading through slime, and he's certainly got the right pedigree to put Kilroy-Silk's arguments through the shredder but, as he well knows, it's traditional for the portly older fellow who can't dance to go out in the first few weeks, and he had overstayed his welcome.

At last I can relax, knowing that each episode of Strictly might be punctuated with clumsy footwork and ugly timing, but the remaining dancers will be in it not just to win it but to really live it. I want Mad Hatters and March Hares, not bemused Cheshire Cats.

Sergeant's decision to fall on his sword will spark off many a weighty philosophical debate, but at least we're back to the absurd wonderland of Strictly and its attendant circus of improbable lifts and impossibly heavy make-up. I'm going to put the kettle on during his farewell dance.

All I want for Christmas is a Take That poster

Could anything be more perfectly festive than a white Christmas? Indeed: a white Christmas where Take That knock on the door, bringing gifts, good cheer and those all-important twinkles in their eyes.

Sales may have slumped, but the geniuses at M&S know a good formula when they see one, and enlisting the fab four to romp through their Christmas television ad was a masterstroke. I'll definitely head into one of their stores if there's a chance a poster of Jason Orange will be smiling down on me. I'm a little old to have him still pinned to my bedroom wall.

Smith misses the point about prostitution

Lumping all types of prostitute together really bothers me, as it does all the prostitutes who oppose changing legislation to make it a criminal offence to pay for sex with anyone who is not acting of their own volition.

No one wants to re-hash the arguments about whether anyone ever really chooses to be a prostitute (is it any different to breaking one's back on a construction site? I think it is; lots of people don't), but many prostitutes fear that the new rules will leave the field wide open for any number of their cohorts to wind up facing criminal charges – those who rent them a room, for example, or a sexual partner who shares their takings with consent.

These prostitutes are staking out their territory, looking after their own, which is fair enough, and they don't consider women smuggled into the country and forced to have sex with up to 40 men a day as part of their brood. Conflating their work with that of trafficked women binds all the rights and protections fought long and hard for to the disgusting practice of 21st-century slavery. No wonder they feel aggrieved that the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, hasn't really called the distinctions when laying down the new laws.

An attack on the grim practice of buying and selling people should be practical, not verbal, and involve police and immigration officers and a strategy which measures up to the horrific scale of the problem. Throwing a punter indifferent to the provenance of his trick in the clink won't scare the wicked overlords of human trafficking industry.

s.morris@independent.co.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

The Jenrick Group: Multi Skilled Maintenance Engineer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Multi Skill...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£20000 - £21000 per annum: The Jenrick Group: This high quality manufacturer o...

The Jenrick Group: Electrical Maintenance Engineer

£30000 - £35000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Electrical ...

Recruitment Genius: Photo Booth Host

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company offers London's best photo booth ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Elton John and David Furnish finalise their marriage paperwork  

Don't be blinded by the confetti — the fight for marriage equality in the UK isn't over yet

Siobhan Fenton
Freeman, centre, with Lord Gladwyn, left, and Harold Wilson on the programme The Great Divide in 1963  

John Freeman was a man of note who chose to erase himself from history

Terence Blacker
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'