Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

How to be British 101


Here in Britain there is a reality tv programme (note not tv show or program) called Strictly Come Dancing. In it, celebs pair up with real ballroom dancers to learn how to dance and to compete to beat all the other celebs and their partners.

Each week, viewers call in to say who they want evicted from the show. The bottom two are then voted out by a panel of judges.

In this series we have BBC chief political correspondent, John Sergeant, described by Jeremy Paxman (click for clip of Sergeant doing the tango) as having 'a face like a wet weekend.' John cannot dance. John just entered for a bit of fun. But John's utter ineptitude on the dancefloor has endeared him to to the nation, who each week vote to keep him in and themselves entertained. Last week a vexed actress called Cherie Lunghi was voted off, despite working her socks off while John lounged around, according to one of the judges reading the Guardian.

Cherie was upset, the judges were livid. True talent and hard work were going unrewarded because of the British public's love of a loser.

John decide that he was in danger of winning and he better resign from the programme (try saying, 'Oh jeez, I think I might win this sucker, I'd better step down' in an American accent.)

At once there was an outcry. 2000 viewes complained to the BBC. Jeremy Paxman on newsnight complained that democracy itself was in peril, as have many bloggers

Democracy is the right of the public to reward failure.

And that, my dear transatlantic cousins, is how to be British.

ps It has been whispered that John pulled out because he was booked to go on a cruise and had not expected his stint on the programme would go on so long.




he has a bit of a reputation for being accident prone

11 comments:

Deja Pseu said...

A similar thing occurred in the US on a recent season of "American Idol" (the singing contest). There was one guy, Sanjay who was pretty bad but people kept voting for him just for the entertainment value, and apparently just to "protest" and throw a wrench in the works. He was finally voted off late in the season. Now that was such big news here that I know all this even though I've never watched American Idol.

I mean, half the country here voted for Bush twice, so we seem to love our incompetents as well.

Arabella said...

I doubt Andrew Marr would have enticed Agnetha out of reclusive retirement; always suspected John has hidden depths.

Sheila said...

I don't think this was about rewarding failure. I think it was a subversive two fingers to a programme that has started to take itself far too seriously and is at risk of becoming a bit pompous - especially the judges. I think it's good old British cussedness.

desertwind said...

He's got a lovely sort of Mel Torme look about him. Seriously charming.

I'd vote for him.

Anonymous said...

"I mean, half the country here voted for Bush twice, so we seem to love our incompetents as well."

Ain't that the truth!!!

Couldn't have said it better!!!!

And many this election day were willing to vote for SP believing she was competent to be one heartbeat from the presidency.

greying pixie said...

John Sargeant has more charm in his little finger than all those judges put together. Let's hope he has burst the bubble of reality television and that we can actually begin to enjoy paying a licence fee!

Still can't stop laughing at the Thatcher incident every time I see it - sort of reminds me of the baby elephant on Blue Peter!

Geraldine said...

Much LOLling at those two memories, greying pixie!

Penny said...

Completely agree with you Sheila, I prefer to see it as a lesson in self-deprecating good humour. Grace and charm in the face of ridiculous self-importance (This is TV light entertainment, for goodness sake. The way the judges were going on about it you'd think it was a matter of life and death). I think it's entirely splendid that the public took to John S in the way that they did - makes me proud to be a Brit!

lagatta à montréal said...

Oh, I'd love to see that on the telly! I'm having such fun with the comments about John Sargeant's willing departure. Needed fun, as I'm dealing with serious stuff from my beloved black tomcat gone missing to the precipitous decline of my aged mum...

Think part of the key is that Sargeant obviously isn't a "loser type" - I'd be much happier spending an evening chatting with him about international history and politics and downing glasses in some nice little bistro than with any of the ballroom whizzes - but he has some of the social awkwardness so many people are plagued with.

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