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Sidmouth Manor Pavilion Theatre - An Inspector Calls (with James Pellow)

Folks who know me very well often say, kindly I think, that I should get out more. I’m a grumpy old sod at the best of times and in the ...

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Strictly Come Dancing (BBC1)

Hello, I can hear you say. Not a bloody word from him for weeks and he flags up a piece on a TV programme. Isn’t this supposed to be a theatre blog? Well, yes it is, and in defence there ain’t anything more theatrical than the Strictly lot on Saturday nights. So I am told. Personally I rarely watch it, reasons later, but do confess to a slightly mischievous frisson on the Sunday ditching of some hapless soul who has been loved, but not enough. Must be my upbringing.

But to explain. Been busy the last month or so directing my Harpenden lot in Alan Ayckbourn’s Table Manners. Pretty pleased because doing it in the round, no stage flats for this one, seemed to work and we had sell out houses every night. Not being into self promotion on this blog (that’s a laugh, they says, the whole blog is a form of self promotion) I say nothing else about it. But it did mean I missed Dunstable Rep’s latest offering. Little Voice. Pity, because they had a seriously good director and, on paper, an excellent cast. Pretty rare omission for me. The last time I missed a Rep production I reckon I was in short pants. As you don’t want to know about my private life I shall swiftly get back to Strictly.

Get back to it maybe, but clearly I don’t get it. Almost a minority of one in theatrical circles. And here come the tenuous blogging link. Judged by various comments from my cast and one or two at the Rep, I don’t tweet but I can facebook with the best of them, half of the actors couldn’t wait to ditch their scripts and settle down to their weekly fix of undiluted hysteria. And that’s its problem for me. I can just about stomach the frontmen, except the one I am convinced is a witch, and the judges have some individual charm. Bruno may be a demented Italian waiter and Craig, bless him, a nitpicking piranha but they can knock any Simon Cowell formation into a cocked hat. It’s the bloody audience I can’t stand. Drives me away from the screen quicker than you can say old seventies sitcom. They scream and boo at judges comments regardless of whether they are justified. The rule seems to be the bad gets booed and the good gets cheered. Nothing wrong with that if allied to performances but, sadly, performances seem almost to be incidental to audience frenzy.

If you don’t believe me think about the worst aspect of a programme that could, without its audience, be almost watchable. Every now and then you get moments of pure dancing theatre. It may be the professionals doing a turn with a guest singer in the background, occasionally it is a celebrity reaching the heights with a consummate partner. Music, staging, bodies, all combine in moments of physical poetry and tenderness. And then the audience scream their appreciation. Not at the end but during the twirls. The mood is destructively broken, not just for you but them as well. Only they do not realise it. Fired on by mindless TV executives who should know better those collective morons clap and scream to order. If they did it at the theatre you would walk out in disgust. As it is, I just go and make the tea and pray that one day, one day, they will defy their puppet masters and, presented with fleeting artistic beauty, remain silent.

Until the end.

Some hope.

Strictly Come Dancing?

No thanks folks.

Don’t have an opinion on the show, but I can’t stand the audience.

Roy Hall


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