Carrie Dunn // 16 November 2009
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?