#Strictly: A Soap Opera

It's a weird and unheard of thing for me to be immersed in and held totally captive by the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing show.  I am NOT; have never been a #Strictly fan.  Whilst the Beeb’s overall production is a class act and very stylish, the choreography was just a tad dull and soggy in part.  I preferred the dance routines of the American version Dancing with the Stars. 

This year it was startlingly different. And that was all down to the amazing and superb partnering of Oti Mabuse and Danny Mac.
This narrative on the 10th Anniversary of the Beeb’s most popular show has three interlocking strands. The first is a salutation to an outstanding professional dancer and choreographer, Oti Mabuse.

The second strand reviews a thrilling drama complete with script, roles, plots and sub-plots - played on and off stage, including the potential for romance known as "the #Strictly curse".  

The third strand presents a glitzy show that challenges a cross section of celebrities to go on a 'journey' to become a dancer. It purports to be a competitive dance championship. It is, but only in part.

Otlile (Oti) Mabuse, the South African professional Latin American and ballroom dancer and her celebrity partner, British actor Danny Mac, electrified the annual showcase event and took it to another level.   

Oti’s set pieces, as noted by an admirer on #teamdoti fanpage, were ‘intense, fiery, exciting and classy...so fresh...and different.’ The partnership created something 'unique and incredible'.  In the process they broke some old as well as set some brand new Strictly records. They clocked the highest score of the season (the series?).
Charleston and (groundbreaking) Samba

This team received rave reviews as they scored the coveted "40x4" in two consecutive weeks.  'FAB-U-LOUS' and 'Totally Brilliant' enthused badass judge, Craig Revel Horwood.  And they were.  'There were moments of magic' declared head judge Len Goodman.  And there were. The Show's presenters acknowledged that this was '#Strictly history in the making'. 

In fact the entire professional dance team stepped it up in 2016. Some of their group performances were simply brilliant. Ed and Katya themes and improvisaton were bold and creative. Who will ever forget their Salsa Gangnam stylee[1].

Kevin and Louise's magnificent Argentine Tango undoubtedly took them to the finals. AJ and Claudia's Quickstep and Salsa were class acts. And savour your victory Ore Oduba and Joanne.  Winners should do some serious basking.

Whilst TeamDanny&Oti set the Strictly dance floor on fire, THEY WERE NEVER GOING TO WIN.  Why? It was not scripted. That realization dawned slowly and painfully.  From the very beginning this team either headed the leader board or was among the top three.  Hence their unexpected propulsion into the dreaded Dance OFF at semi finals stage was startling, heartrending.

How could that be? Consternation, confusion and disbelief reigned among #DotiFans. We alternately writhed in anquish or raved with anger. The number one contender (and runner-up) to lift the famed glitterball had BOTH been handicapped.   

They stood side by side in the arena, one team would get the Caesar thumbs down signal. This was intended to add to the piquancy and heighten the tension in the drama. Cliffhanger. It worked beautifully.
Here was the final dénouement. For discerning #DotiFans the semi finals weekend really concluded the show. It was all over bar a reprise of that exquisite history making, samba, "hotter and steamier than the Amazonian Jungle".  At least there would be a fitting finale to a gripping and masterly drama production scripted long before selection of the cast.

Selecting the Lead Players: each year the BBC seeks celebrity participants to specifically assist in meeting its third raison d’être – to entertain.  An aspect of that entertainment was boldly and brazenly spelt out in a subliminal message encoded in the headline banner photograph dominating the top of Strictly’s Facebook page and elsewhere. Yeah BBC.  I see you.

Actor Danny Mac
Celebs are chosen to raise the ratings for the autumn’s Saturday night entertainment slot, not necessarily to win. This year, as foretold by print media, destined to be the  people's choice and the bookies' favourite respectively, Ed Balls former MP and Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer and Danny Mac, previously on British TV soap Hollyoaks, were in the frame. 

Former Labour MP, Ed Balls
The stage was set for the first Act. The ratings war demanded that both Ed and Danny reach Blackpool, but only one could be a 'contender' in the semi finals.  Len Goodman made it clear who the 'contender' was right from the very start after Danny's Cha-Cha. 

The lead role - the leading man - would be played by a real actor with box office appeal. Who would that be then?  Bruno Tonioli told us after Danny's brilliant tango to Dream Girls 'One Night Only'.  

Fabulous - the judges were iterating the punch lines in the drama.  I loved it.

So, you were players in a drama guys.  Nothing wrong with that.  It made for damn good television. And you were handsomely rewarded with massive exposure and significant raising of your profile; it positively reinvented Ed in public perception. You were newly rediscovered and a sheer joy Ed...who knew?

ACT II Blackpool glitz
And boy did you deliver.  Big time.  BBC Strictly had its best series EVER with record audience share - over 12 million for Finals night. The Blackpool glitz beat its pesky rival on the other channel by over 5 million viewers. 

Please return for the 2017 Christmas Special encore.

Having watched the series from beginning to end for the very first time, I now realise that Strictly is not just a show: it is actually a soap opera! You need to watch the whole thing over the entire period and be immersed in the fallout week by week to get it. And that is why the Show is such a success worldwide.

Will I be watching the next Strictly series...perhaps; it depends. On what? Well definitely on Oti who is left shining like a diamond.  But can you replace Danny Mac?  He above all made the show/script the success that it was; he was the leading man after all.
The Semi Finalists: Danny Mac Ore Oduba Louise Redknapp

I quite fancy being a script writer for the next series. Interested BBC?


  1. Fabulous synopsis! Not an avid strictly viewer, fell across #doti whilst checking out this years hot contender AB and quite simply haven't stopped watching them since! Is there an antidoti ?! (I'm serious) 😩 I would also add that having trawled through most of their strictly 'journey' that perhaps Oti (underestimated)? Threw a major spanner in the works forcing the judges to ludicrously low mark (stick to the script), that this is all about filling arenas for the tour, a quick peek at the live shows where the avenged can finally seek justice ( Yes #doti were the overall winners. Yay!) that this is really 'Strictly Pantomime'. Love it! Thank you 😊

    1. Thankyou - so enjoyed writing it and it was passionately felt. Joe MacFad is in the frame this year. The cynic in me also says since he was killed off on Holby (so I'm told as I dont watch) he would have bags of time for publicity!!


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