RICK JACKSON: Sticking Strictly to a winning formula

New Strictly judge Shirley Ballas  Picture: BBCNew Strictly judge Shirley Ballas  Picture: BBC
New Strictly judge Shirley Ballas Picture: BBC
With a splash of glitter, a sparkle of sequins and a rasp of trumpets, Strictly Come Dancing is back on our screens and the countdown to Christmas has begun.

The secret of success is not to change a winning formula unless you really have to, something Simon Cowell and the team have yet to realise as producers knee-jerk to every week’s audience figures on The X Factor.

Strictly however has hardly changed. In fact, the first episode was not too dissimilar to the most recent series, bar a few new faces.

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One of those is judge Shirley Ballas, known as the Queen of Latin in dance circles.

This posh scouser from Wallasey is the new head judge but has some way to go before gaining the authority of Len Goodman or the amusement factor of panto dame Craig Revel Horwood.

But what of this year’s contestants? The obligatory soap stars, former pop stars and comedians. There’s even a TV chef.

I’ll be honest, there are more celebrities I’ve had to look up this year, but after watching the first show, there are enough flat feet, static hips and jazz hands to keep me entertained until the big man arrives.

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My wife has already highlighted Kush from EastEnders as the eye candy for the ladies, and Gemma Atkinson certainly fits the bill for the chaps. There is a bit of David Beckham about her, only it’s her Mancunian accent instead of an Essex accent that does the damage.

The Reverend Richard Coles and chef Simon Rimmer will provide most of the early entertainment with Debbie McGee the early surprise, boy can she move!

So all the ingredients are there for another classic Strictly series.

The format is so strong, not even a transfer to Channel 4 would put us off.

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Even Claudia Winkleman’s naff jokes as she tries to justify being the BBC’s highest paid female presenter, or the supposedly ‘brilliant’ Zoe Ball, cannot put me off this bit of superb British telly.

It’s so good, even the judges agree with the scores I think they should give!


Well done Transport for London for having the balls to take on taxi firm Uber and not renew its licence.

I couldn’t believe the arrogance of its spokesperson on BBC News who basically said it was TfL’s responsibility to check its drivers not Uber.

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The number of sexual assault or harassment claims against drivers which have gone unchecked is absolutely scandalous.

On the flip side, I spotted an Uber cab driver on the M275 talking on his mobile, veering across lanes. So I tweeted Uber.

I got a pretty instant response. With time and location, they identified the driver and took appropriate action.

In my experience, they do check out claims, so I wonder if the London situation might be more about politics?


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Have you seen the TV ads in which one driver locks her car from the bus and a family finds their lost car, all via their phones?

My car tells me each month via a text how happy it is and whether I am driving it kindly.

So what next? There certainly isn’t anything more my car could do for me apart from order and deliver the groceries. Now there’s an idea.

Do I want to be in my car while it does the driving?

I’d be happy enough to send it out for a takeaway or to fill itself up with fuel.

How about calling it to pick me up from the pub after a few pints? Think I’m coming round the idea!

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