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Matt M
Matt M
6 months ago

I often think we lost something as a culture when ballroom dancing went out of fashion in the 1960s. Young men struggle (or at least they did in my day) to make the first move with women. Having a formal routine of asking them to dance seems like a great solution. Women, as we know, love dancing and a partner with mediocre looks but good feet stood a reasonable chance in the mating game. And close dancing allows intimacy without “full contact” which I think is probably a valuable way for young people to get to know each other.
I have often wondered if the BBC couldn’t sponsor dance lessons for schools under the Strictly brand to reteach these lost skills and prompt a renaissance on the dancefloors of Britain.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
6 months ago

I’m not the over-educated British-culture-denying type referred to here, but I cannot abide this programme. It’s drivel.

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
6 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I’d rather go to the music hall, they sound great!

Lizzie J
Lizzie J
6 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

For me it’s enjoyable drivel but I can’t bear the “I’m doing this for my dead mother/father/sister/auntie/grandad/cat”. The very definition of mawkishness.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
6 months ago

This show has actually been the first British TV example of pronounced woke. There have been increasing variations on same-sex couples, a high minority quotient, disabilities and a dwarf celebrity dancer (who’s not Peter Dinklage).
Perhaps this is just traditional British PC in reaction to the era of Angela Rippon and dodgy sitcoms i.e. the 1970s. By and large, as a dancing competition it continues to be undemanding, jovial, musically illiterate and entirely sexless.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
6 months ago
Reply to  Tyler Durden

The shagging goes on elsewhere, I believe.

Benjamin Jones
Benjamin Jones
6 months ago
Reply to  Tyler Durden

Maybe it’s turning into that 17th century fair mentioned in the article. A dwarf this year, next year a bearded ‘lady’, for want of a better description.

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
6 months ago

I realise that on UnHerd Mary Harrington can do no wrong – but what a load of drivel.

Stevie K
Stevie K
6 months ago

Beg to differ Caradog, the show is drivel but her article isn’t. As another over educated twãt, I can’t stand Strictly, but Mary’s view of it, that even as it bends the knee to woke sensibilities, it is nevertheless still underneath a slightly bawdy and quintessentially British phenomenon is spot on.
I especially like her comment:
“There’s a whole genre of social-media post dedicated to such assertions — shared, especially on St George’s Day, as a kind of national anti-ritual of self-effacement.”
Mary is producing some of the best and most perceptive journalism in the country right now, and with an elegant writing style that many could do with emulating. What’s not to celebrate, at least she’s not another hand wringing, self-hating ex Marxist like a few of the Unherd stable.

Geoff Wilkes
Geoff Wilkes
6 months ago

Indeed. I’ve just resubscribed at $2.00 for three months, and now I’m wondering if I paid too much.

Jonathan Smith
Jonathan Smith
6 months ago

Pedantry I know but Angela Rippon was a mere 32 when she appeared on Morecambe & Wise in 1976 and not 38.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
6 months ago

Holiday camp entertainment: Brief theatrical dances padded out with oceans of gushing chat.

Jane Davis
Jane Davis
6 months ago

It can seriously claim to be one of the most traditional and one of the most inclusive shows on TV – and some are switching off because of the inclusion. That isn’t safe by any means.
Harrington hints at this in the bit about widening the demographic but doesn’t address the risk. You do not see Graham Norton cuddling up to another man on Prime Time. Ditto Sandi Toksvig et al with other women.
Yes, kitschy, yes sentimental etc. What ‘intellectuals’ never get is that there is high skill on display here, These dances are not easy and watching people improve, or at least, suck humour out of their limitations, is fun.
As for Matt m who suggested ballroom dancing in schools, all kinds of partner dancing are extremely popular in London and elsewhere for precisely the reasons you mention. It never went out of fashion per se but it goes on beneath the media radar.
Harrington’s near contempt for older people doing moves regarded as pleasure orientated or sexual is so English/British. In Spain no-one would be at all surprised by a high kicking septuagenarian. Women of that age go topless there all the time (fnnarr fnarr, missus!); it is a completely different attitude.
There is nothing inherently stupid about light entertainment. So called ‘serious’ media programmes are often more inane as Chris Morris pointed out.
Another distinguishing feature of ballroom and latin dancing is that the men are as sexualised as the women – you had Shirley and Motsi openly drooling at times. Perhaps this is what Harrington thinks is smutty.
The packaging may be schmaltzy but the skill is present . Last year, a guy who would never appear on the front cover of Men’s Health won. That has to be a good thing.

Amy Harris
Amy Harris
6 months ago

Until 2019, I loved Strictly and watched it religiously. Then I had to boycott it for three years to avoid the insanity of talk about “testing” and “distancing” and masking and jabbing. I believe it also tested the boundaries of wokery during this time. So I was thrilled to find, when I dipped my toe back in this year, that the REAL Strictly is BACK! Full of bawdy innuendo, sarcasm and unadulterated language. Loving it!

N Satori
N Satori
6 months ago
Reply to  Amy Harris

I tried watching the show last year. Not so much bawdy innuendo as slobbering, tear-jerking (and cynical) sentimentality. The supposedly witty Claudia Winkleman continually posing “How do you feel?” questions. Contestants family members brought in to add a (phony) warm-hearted glow. Mushy.
Then there was the strange phenoma of the studio audience breaking into a loud cheer everytime any of the dancers did a lift. Spontaneous? Always sounded faked to me.

j watson
j watson
6 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

Fair play Sats, at least you gave it a go. Impressed.

Amy Harris
Amy Harris
6 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

Give it another try this year. I think they are back on form

N Satori
N Satori
6 months ago
Reply to  Amy Harris

Perhaps I could try keeping count of how many times Winkleman asks: “How much would it mean to you to win the Glitterball Trophy?”

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
6 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

If the question ‘How do you feel?’ was outlawed most TV journalists would be at a loss. They would have to get proper jobs.

John Tyler
John Tyler
6 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

Especially all the blooming sports presenters!

Stevie K
Stevie K
6 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

The ubiquitous nature of that one question ‘How do you feel?’ is the perfect demonstration of the extraordinary level of progressive emotionalisation of the whole culture.
It appears basically illegal not to have a nicely framed emotional response to all aspects of public (and private) life – Very weird times we have wandered into there.
The delicate powerful balance between emotions and rationality is something we heed to claw back.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
6 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

I record it so that I can scroll quickly through the bits that don’t interest or entertain me!

David Morley
David Morley
6 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

I watched it to keep a, now ex, girlfriend happy. Truly awful. The show not the girlfriend! I expect to get time off in purgatory for it. I also watched a whole series of Love Island so I would know whereof I spoke. I need to stop doing this. It rots the soul and destroys all belief in humanity.

Gordon Arta
Gordon Arta
6 months ago

Choreographed to death, every trace of spontaneity committeed out of it, everyone involved, audience included, playing their preprogrammed role, and every woke box ticked. The most simplistic formula the BBC can devise.

G K
G K
6 months ago

Is it terrible to admit that I find old ladies in minidresses difficult to watch ( to put it as mildly as possible)?

Benjamin Greco
Benjamin Greco
6 months ago

Britain shouldn’t brag about being responsible for giving the world DWTS and Survivor. They have contributed to the decline of western civilization.

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
6 months ago

BBC just needs to exercise the ‘Sackler Option’; develop it, sell it via a chain of subsidiaries, and deny all knowledge of it.

Ben Shipley
Ben Shipley
6 months ago

It’s good to see someone like Mary confirm that the GB of my childhood still hides there underneath the welter of grumbling headlines we see today.

j watson
j watson
6 months ago

The ‘Seaside Pier saucy postcard-ism’ of us Brits continues basically.
I must admit Strictly a bit of a guilty pleasure, although Author has helped reduce that guilt! She’s right about the communal watching experience. I can play the amateur expert to gleeful annoyance of wife and daughters, and it’s one of the few Programmes we watch together – and we used to have these communal experiences much more back in the day didn’t we.
Obviously Author couldn’t stop herself having a jab at the BBC. How on earth could such a Progressive Blob put on such a popular show!
But when I clicked on UnHerd this AM I thought maybe we’ll see this Author write something about the awful misogyny yesterday on GB News leading to two suspensions and death threats to the woman they were demeaning. Yet instead an article about Strictly. Strange.

Last edited 6 months ago by j watson
Amy Harris
Amy Harris
6 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Don’t be fooled by that drama. A couple actors (one, literally) playing their roles for the establishment in order to drum up support for more OfCom powers. Ditto Brand doing his bit to get everyone flag waving for the sinister “Online Harms” bill. These are dark times and the rot goes much deeper than a few loose-lipped TV presenters.

j watson
j watson
6 months ago
Reply to  Amy Harris

Yes I fear that AH and surprised MH doesn’t hit that issue a bit more head-on. However she has a ‘base’ and probably needs to balance what she can say on this sort of thing with regular ‘red meat’. Journalists got to eat like the right of us.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
6 months ago
Reply to  j watson

I think the idea of Unherd is to provide perspectives outside those of the herd.

The mainstream herd is in full stampede (no doubt correctly) over Dan. Unless Unherd wants to try to justify what appears to be unjustifiable, there is no rationale for an article.

j watson
j watson
6 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Maybe but I’d genuinely be interested in MH’s thoughts on why and how are such opinions re-populating elements of our media. I concur the stampede to condemn, whilst needed and inevitable, doesn’t actually throw much light on why these Men think this ok. I often don’t agree with her main thesis in her Articles, but I always read them and usually they are thought provoking.

Last edited 6 months ago by j watson
Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
6 months ago
Reply to  j watson

You read Unherd. Surely you know why “these men think it’s ok.”

It’s a push back by people who have felt unheard and disrespected for a long time. Just as the progressive pendulum has swung to extremes so will the backlash go well past an acceptable mid point.

j watson
j watson
6 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

There’s ‘push backs’ and there’s’ push backs’ MB. Pushing back on, say, EDI or positive discrimination, is v different from normalising abuse of women.

Last edited 6 months ago by j watson
Andrew H
Andrew H
6 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Quite, well said.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
6 months ago
Reply to  j watson

“Tory scum”
“It should have been battery acid.”

The people on both sides who indulge in this are a disgrace, but your question was “why are such opinions repopulating our media.”

I don’t condone or sympathise with it, but it isn’t hard to understand.

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
6 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

There was a more serious issue about Dan before, that UnHerd seemed to have a lot of trouble acknowledging.

N Satori
N Satori
6 months ago
Reply to  j watson

This is obviously not the journal for you watson. You should move on to The Guardian, The New Statesman or Evgeny Lebedev’s Independent – I’m sure you’d be happier there. As things stand, with your Alistair Campbellesque spiel you come accross like one of those puritanical preachers who cannot resist hanging out with ‘the fallen’, the better to correct them in the error of their ways.

Last edited 6 months ago by N Satori
j watson
j watson
6 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

I do feel the ‘vocational pull’ Sats, and always replenished by the obvious attention you take.

Last edited 6 months ago by j watson
Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
6 months ago
Reply to  j watson

I’m on Sat’s side but as put downs go, this is worth a small round of applause.