Strictly all-female

// 16 November 2009

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If you’re a follower of Saturday night light entertainment, you’ll probably know that Bruce Forsyth had to pull out of hosting Strictly Come Dancing this weekend because he has flu.

The BBC announced this on Friday morning, saying that his co-host Tess Daly would take over his presenting duties. If you don’t watch Strictly, usually Bruce is out in the ballroom, reading the links, introducing the couples, and eliciting the judges’ comments; Tess is backstage getting the dancers’ reactions after they’ve performed.

When I heard that Tess would be out front, I assumed that they’d get a chap in to do the backstage bits, for balance, speculating about former champions Mark Ramprakash and Darren Gough, or pro dancer Matthew Cutler. So I was delighted when the Beeb revealed later that day that Claudia Winkleman, presenter of the show’s spin-off It Takes Two, would be taking on Tess’s usual role.

Still with me? Good.

And then Strictly began on Saturday night, and Tess was joined on the dance floor by Ronnie Corbett.



A fine comedian, a great ambassador for British light entertainment, I’m sure, but with no tangible links to Strictly or ballroom dancing. Except, of course, for the fact that he’s great mates with Brucie. If Corbett wasn’t exaggerating, Forsyth asked him to take over for the week.

This leads me to ask first why on earth Forsyth is sorting out his own temp cover when he’s off sick, and second why on earth the BBC put up with it. The effect of bringing on Corbett as a senior male figure, sitting on the sidelines to watch over Daly and Winkleman doing the hard work, is one of the BBC not trusting the girlies to be able to handle the show themselves, and Forsyth jealously guarding his territory.

The irony is that in my humble opinion Tess did Bruce’s job much better than he does now, and Claudia did Tess’s job much better than she does now. When the time comes for a shake-up, I wonder if the BBC will consider an all-female presenting team? After all, there are no issues with all-male teams. Or would two women on prime-time television be too much oestrogen for the television-viewing public to handle?

Comments From You

earwicga // Posted 16 November 2009 at 4:35 pm

I watched Strictly (rare for me) on Saturday and much as I respect your take on it, I saw something different.

I saw Corbett doing a few snippets where he was supposedly on the phone to Forsyth – that was it. I didn’t think he was in a presenting role at all, letalone a ‘senior male figure’.

I have to say I’m not a fan of Winkleman, Daly or Forsyth and find them all mindless fillers for presenters, but saw nothing amiss on Saturday.

Carrie // Posted 16 November 2009 at 4:37 pm

Fair enough. But why was Corbett there at all? It just didn’t make sense. He topped and tailed the programme, reminding us that Bruce wasn’t there the entire time, but apart from that…

carolynska // Posted 16 November 2009 at 7:11 pm

I watch Strictly every week and what I saw this week was Tess doing a better job than usual,Claudia being funny and entertaining and Ronnie there as a “token” male. What made me smile was that while viewers seemed to be waiting to see if the women could cope ,they were really competent and it was the token male who tripped on the stairs and stuttered over his lines. Credit to the women!

tomhulley // Posted 16 November 2009 at 7:49 pm

In a similar way, Dimbleby missed question time last week and who did they get?

Another boring ageing male journo.

Question Time had Harriet Harman on the panel a few weeks previously and she was set upon by a gang of blokes -one of them supposed to be in the chair.

I would love to see Claudia do Question Time ( I think she is very smart, earwicga, not ‘mindless’ despite her faux-naive games) but there are plenty of more likely women candidates in the news business far more able than the two dozy Dimblebys who just interrupt eveyone.

How can Forsyth and Dimbleby work when others are forced to retire? Why is the very able Darcey Bussell just sitting on the side lines?

But isn’t ballroom dancing fairly misogynistic though?

Helen // Posted 16 November 2009 at 9:49 pm

I absolutely agree. Why was Ronnie Corbett there? Also, I felt that Tess and Claudia’s less tightly-scripted routine gave the whole show much more energy than usual.

earwicga // Posted 17 November 2009 at 12:58 pm

tomhulley, I must take issue with this:

“In a similar way, Dimbleby missed question time last week and who did they get?

Another boring ageing male journo”

John Humphreys is an incredible journalist and if you have ever listened him on Today you would know this. He is particularly good at detecting bullshit in politicians and doesn’t let them get away with much, often exposing them for hypocrisy. I would much rather watch him presenting QT every week than Dimbleby.

tomhulley // Posted 17 November 2009 at 8:50 pm

Sorry, earwicga, my partner listens to radio 4 while I suffer in silence. I don’t like waking up to bullying whoever is targetted.

rbrtjoiner // Posted 17 November 2009 at 10:26 pm

I am an avid Strickly fan, but I am not a fan of the aging Brucie. I thoroughly enjoyed Saturday’s show and for the first time I didn’t have to fast forward through Brucie’s inane ‘jokes’ and inappropriate comments. Well done to Tess and especially Claudia – as has been mentioned she is a clever woman and very amusing to watch. There was a whole different atmosphere in the show – because of the all female (nearly!) hosts? or just more competent hosts!? More please!

Kez // Posted 18 November 2009 at 8:48 am

Sorry, tomhulley, but I had to laugh just a little bit at “isn’t ballroom dancing fairly misogynistic though?”.

Maybe it’s just the (IMO) overuse of the word “misogynistic”, which always seems like a very strong word to me (“woman-hating”), but is often used interchangeably with “a bit sexist”. I may be wrong, of course.

But I can think of far more genuinely misogynistic things to worry about than a spot of ballroom dancing.

earwicga // Posted 18 November 2009 at 11:24 am

@tomhulley – sorry to hear you have to suffer each morning. I can no longer listen to it as my son worries too much about things on the news so we haven’t had any news programmes on for a couple of years.

I think you are right actually after thinking about it – bullying bullies (politicians) isn’t a good thing either.

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