It’s not personal Ashley Roberts… the public just won’t vote for trained dancers on StrictlyDecember 8, 2018
ASHLEY ROBERTS seems a perfectly likeable person who, you might recall, briefly became a telly sweetheart during her time in the I’m A Celebrity jungle in a former reality show life.
Yet this year the American Pussycat Dolls star is receiving fewer votes on Strictly Come Dancing than the couples at the bottom of the judges’ leader board – even as they shower her with top marks for her dancing.
Has the public decided she’s a horrible person who should really find a US telly show to earn a few quid from? Probably not. But we are sending a very clear message to the BBC to stop booking trained dancers on Strictly.
It’s something I’ve been saying for years – and I get countless emails, tweets and letters any time I talk or write about it. Yet each series it’s the same thing.
Dance-trained celeb tries to insist that five years of ballet training or ten years dancing on the West End does not mean they are any good at ballroom. I call rubbish on that!
ITV decided Ashley was such a professional dancer they made her a judge on Strictly rival Dancing On Ice, for goodness sake.
And from week one on Strictly that professionalism has shone through. Commenting on her Viennese waltz, ballet superstar Darcey Bussell cooed: “So fluid. I mean big graceful moves. The way you fill out the music with your arms to the very last beat, and you use your back beautifully.”
Amateur? I don’t think so. Compare that to the real stars of Strictly this year – Paralympian Lauren Steadman and her pro dancer AJ Pritchard.
Here’s a young woman born without her lower right arm putting out the most beautiful performances week in week out against all physical odds, yet the judges give her absolute no special treatment in their marks. So it’s been up to us to keep them in – and we have time and time again.
Most telling was a fortnight ago when they came bottom of the leader board in both their main routine and that weird Lindy Hop-a-thon debacle, yet avoided the bottom two altogether. Imagine the fun with Gemma Collins in line-up
Strictly sources have claimed Lauren actually won the public vote that week and Ashley, who had close to top marks from the judges, came dead last.
Credit to AJ too who, after three years on Strictly, has become the breakout professional dancer this year, charming viewers with his upbeat approach that isn’t toxic and competitive like many of his rival pros (did someone say Kevin Clifton?).
AJ has also pushed boundaries by refusing to label his sexuality, something common in the new generation of pop stars but less comfortable if you’re on a stuffy show like Strictly.
Yes, we may know them all now but I stand by my view that the producers blew it with their line-up this year by banning all reality and mainstream non-BBC faces.
Imagine the entertainment we would have had if Gemma Collins had been in the line-up instead of Ashley (who’s now appeared on eight reality shows herself anyway).
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Instead, the GC has signed up to Dancing On Ice, where, far from being a joke figure, she’s taking her training very seriously and is said to be one of the better celebrity performers.
With Strictly under new management next year, it’s time to go back to the original formula of signing up celebs who haven’t danced professionally.
That way, we can follow their “journey”, daaahhhhling.
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