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Strictly: Who shares wins.

Byline: JULIE BURCHILL

After Mark Wright's Hollywood Nights (the worst programme ever made) welcome to Mark Wright's Sexless Nights...

Sadly, all those gruelling 12-hour Strictly Come Dancing rehearsals left him too exhausted to "waltz around the bedroom". His words, not mine.

I'm sure Essex Boy's soap star fiancee Michelle Keegan was thrilled that her future husband shared their intimate secrets with millions of strangers. Privacy? What privacy? But, hey, the Beeb's minor celebrity jigathon isn't just about the tango and the foxtrot. It's about winning the publicity war. And what an impressive campaigner Mr Wright turned out to be.

Good for him. Why not? Because, as always, they were all at it. Waxing lyrical about their dramatic weight loss, how much they missed their families, how they never realised it would be so tough, the life-changing wonder of their ballroom experience...

And - my personal favourite - rugged Steve Backshall insisting he'd rather have a couple of dogs than a girlfriend. WTF? So you have to hand it to super self-promoter Mark for trumping the lot by sensationally revealing he wasn't having it off with his girlfriend. Nice to know.

Meanwhile, poor Caroline Flack fell victim to the curse of Strictly as she became the latest in a long line of contestants to split from their long-term partners. Full marks to her for not cashing in with the heartbreak interview.

But back to the competition.

And lest we forget... the nerves. Oh the nerves. Ahead of their fiendishly difficult routines, savour the rich and varied comments of the last four standing...

Saturdays stalwart Frankie Bridge: "I'm so nervous." Blue bozo Simon Webbe: "I'm nervous right now. Nervous about my dances." Mark (him again): "I can't believe how nervous I am." Why? You've been droning on about it since September. It's been getting on everyone's nerves.

Anyway, wind assisted by friendly headlines and overgenerous judges, our TOWIE hero made it through to last night's grand finale.

Did the decision to choose him over the superior Jake Wood have anything to do with the fact that Mark's going on the upcoming money-spinning live tour... and Jake's not? Perish the thought.

By an extraordinary coincidence surprise reject Pixie Lott wasn't available to hit the road either. Just fancy that.

But enough of my petty quibbles. Because this triumphant series firmly established Strictly as the queen of Saturday night TV. The X Factor didn't even come close. Formal dancing isn't my cup of cha-cha-cha. But BBC1's highly professional production serves its market to perfection. Respect.

Despite early doubts, the sequinned spectacular didn't miss Brucie. The old boy's replacement Claudia Winkleman was so outstanding the producers need to think about promoting her and getting keen-but-dim Tess Daly to play second fiddle. Or Zoe Ball. Discuss.

As for the panto panellists. Len got dafter by the week, the ants in Bruno's pants were clearly rioting 24/7, cartoon villain Craig's entertaining attempts at comedy bordered on tragic and dazzling Darcey Bussell was quite simply magnificent. Ballerina... you gotta see her. Yah? There's no need to fix what isn't broken. Oh no there isn't! The fab four know their stuff... and they never resort to X Factor style "you nailed it" cliches.

But now it's over we'll have to wait for Strictly's Christmas special. That's a whole five days away! What will we do with ourselves?

CAPTION(S):

Come off it: Simon, Caroline, Mark and Frankie
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Title Annotation:Features; Opinion Column
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 21, 2014
Words:567
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