Stacey Dooley investigates…why she and other nobodies are in the Strictly line-up

OF all the irritations that came with Strictly Come Dancing’s launch night on Saturday, it was the professionals’ exagger­ated response to Tess Daly’s big reveal that got to me the most.

They have to mask their disappointment, I understand, but the words “Your partner will be . . .  KEVIN!” were no sooner out of the host’s mouth than he was off, pogo dancing round the studio, punching the air and screaming: “YAAAAAAAAAS YES! YEEEEES!”

PA:Press Association

The wow factor is palpable as Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton are paired up by Strictly host Tess Daly[/caption]

And for what?

Stacey Dooley, that’s what. Star of BBC3’s box office smash Stacey Dooley Investigates: Second Chance Sex Offenders and now Stacey Dooley investigates how many people had to Google her name on Sunday morning.

She is by no means, though, the most anonymous of the new batch on the 16th series of Strictly, which was quick to remind us of its past triumphs, and equally swift to jog our memories about all the things that remain wrong with this show.

Bruno Tonioli is still there, for starters. So’s Tess with those links that all seem to have passed through about ten light-entertainment BBC sub committees, where they’re vetted for any hint of spontaneity.

PA:Press Association

Not sure the Strictly line-up merits quite this much fanfare…[/caption]

“Swapping the radio studio for the dance studio.”

“Swapping the newsroom for the ballroom.”

“Ditching the cricket balls for the glitter balls.”

Devotees of the show don’t care about these details, of course, and nor do floating viewers if they throw us a single high-profile comedy bone, in the Ed Balls mould, who can transform Strictly Come Dancing into the funniest show on television.

Getty – Contributor

Her lines may not be the most original, but Tess certainly adds to the glam factor – and we know who she is[/caption]

Much like last year’s box-ticking frenzy, though, something has gone badly wrong with the booking process again and the class of 2018 has no maverick entertainer, just a lot of people you might vaguely recognise off the telly.

Among the slightly more famous contestants there’s dance-trained Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts, Steps’ Faye Tozer, Lee Ryan out of Blue, Kate “The Silverback” Silverton, from BBC News, cricketer Graeme Swann and Susannah Constantine, who seemed to have got lost on the way to the Loose Women studio and mentioned “the menopause” before she’d even done her Mrs Overall impression in that group dance.

Once through that lot, though, you’re into Stacey Dooley territory with Danny John-Jules, a Paralympian, some bloke called Charles off Casualty, who warmed the nation’s heart by referring to himself in the third person, and comedian Seann Walsh, who confirmed: “I’m not here to make anyone laugh.”

A statement that should be all over Seann’s Edinburgh Fringe poster every year.

Getty – Contributor

Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts is one of the most recognisable celebs in the new series[/caption]

The two bookings that irked me most, though, were local radio DJ Vick Hope, whose only recognisable feature is her perfume (Ambition by Givenchy) and internet vlogger Joe Sugg, whose presence really did flag up TV’s general failure if 13million people are logging on to watch this bloke put cling film over his mate’s toilet bowl.

It also told me, without much competition from The X Factor, Strictly’s got complacent and rather full of itself.

The solution would seem obvious, though. Rip up the flat fee booking system, drop the salaries of the makeweights and spend the excess on a marquee booking like Richard Madeley, Prezza, Eamonn Holmes, Cherie Blair or Farage, who’d empty Britain’s streets with his jive.

This is not just my opinion, obviously. Almost everyone who’s looked at this year’s Strictly line-up has concluded it’s not good enough.

Casualtys Charles Venn is looking to muscle his way into our consciousness

You can be pretty damn sure then the BBC will take the criticism on board, channel the opinions through a thousand sub-committees and conclude that, yes, unequivocally what this show needs is same sex couples.

We live in nutty times.

Quiz show mouth-breathers of the week

The Chase, Bradley Walsh: “JFK: Remembering Jack is a book about which man?”

Emma: “Pass.”

Bradley Walsh: “2017, The Queen’s Sapphire Jubilee, marked how many years on the throne?”

Emma: “100.”


Bradley Walsh looks as though he’s trying to keep as straight face…always[/caption]

Tipping Point, Ben Shephard: “Which UK Prime Minister starred in the 2003 episode of The Simpsons?”

Mikayla: “Winston Churchill.”

Bradley Walsh: “In the 1930s, Caroline Mikkelsen became the first woman to set foot in what continent?”

Barrie: “Australia.”

Feckless Eric sees Rox off

A CRACKING new series of Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls was immediately transformed into Fantasy Island on Sunday night, thanks to the arrival of Roxanne Pallett, who made an early promise/threat.

“If someone gets stung by a jellyfish,” she claimed, earnestly, “I would wee on them.”

Channel 4

Roxanne Pallett is a wee superstar, but unfortnately she didn’t stay long enough on Celebrity Island to prove it[/caption]

And if they didn’t get stung? Roxanne would probably p*** on them from a great height anyway.

You feared, then, for the latest selection of male celebs, James Cracknell, Anthony Ogogo, Martin Kemp, Towie’s Pete Wicks and star of The Specialist Eric Roberts, an obvious Hollywood casualty who still boasted: “I’ve been nominated for an Academy Award and three Golden Globes, and I’ve had so much fun I can’t see straight.”

Yeah, can’t see straight, can’t stay awake and can’t remember anyone’s name either, so he started calling Martin Kemp “Colin”. Eric’s fantastic entertainment, though, and unlike the others has the gifts of honesty and intuition, so he was having none of Roxanne’s Penelope Pitstop routine.

First she succumbed to “trench foot”. Then she was rescued from the water after her leg became dangerously entangled with the voices in her head, and finally Roxanne had to be evacuated from the island when the camp fire ignited long-buried memories of a teenage house fire.

(Channel 4 images must not be altered or manipulated in any way) Channel 4 Picture Publ

The intrepid group stranded on Celebrity Island – although some of them are rather more tepid[/caption]

A tale of the unexpected that earned her a fond farewell from the other islanders and a muttered aside from Eric.

“That story. When’s the movie coming out?”

About the same time as The Specialist II.


Alan Shearer: “After two defeats, Fulham have got a win and a victory.”

Matt Murray: “If England had gone on and got that second goal, they’d have gone on and got it.”

Neil Warnock: “The bookies are never wrong, but they weren’t right last year.”

Lee Dixon: “You can sing about England’s midfield about as long as the cow’s come home.”

(Compiled by Graham Wray)

  • GOOD Morning Britain, Tuesday, Piers Morgan to Susanna: “If I waddled in here weighing 1,000lb and said, ‘Bring me ten Big Macs for breakfast’, would you say, ‘Bravo’?” No. She’d say, “D’you want fries with that?”

Spoiler! Beeb hit is no E.R.

THERE will be no more lift-exiting or corridor- charging for Keeley Hawes after BBC1’s Bodyguard killed off her Home Secretary Julia Montague on Sunday night.

A revelation that may have one or two of you screaming: “Thanks for the spoiler alert,” but tough luck. The rest of us are fed up putting everything on hold for stragglers who think the world revolves around their schedule.


Hands up who saw the demise of Keeley Hawes coming in Bodyguard[/caption]

And anyway, codes of silence should exist only for those truly great dramas, like The Sopranos or ER, which understand you have to earn the right to kill off one of your main characters and jumping that gun smacks of arrogance.

As popular as it’s been, Bodyguard clearly isn’t in this bracket.

It’s far too full of plot holes and box-ticking to be anywhere near Sopranos class, in fact, and Richard Madden’s Sergeant Zoolander character doesn’t begin to look capable of carrying the show on his own.

Don’t, however, rule out the possibility of a last-minute redemption.

Yes, folks, that’s what you call a bombshell – as Bodyguard’s Home Sec is blasted off the stage

If Bodyguard really is as edgy, risk-taking, different-from-the-herd and brilliant as writer Jed Mercurio seems to think, then it’ll conclude the person responsible for the explosions, death and every other misery visited on humanity wasn’t a white, middle-class man.

I’m not exactly holding my breath here, though.


On Friday’s This Morning, Eamonn Holmes announces: “Next, masturbation, we’re getting stuck into that.

Martin Lewis is here at 10:45, Matthew Wright’s popping in at ten past 11 . . .”

And if Jamie Oliver appears, we’ve got a whole studio full of them.


Kim of How Clean Is Your Home fame is on the left

THIS week’s winner is Kim Woodburn and Mata, from The Emperor’s New Groove.

Emailed in by James McGuire. Picture research: Marta Ovod.


All those pitiful BBC News reporters sacrificing their credibility for a Bodyguard cameo.

Wanderlust turning out to be as erotic and entertaining as Live Treasury Questions on the Parliament channel.

X Factor’s Tre Amici failing to call themselves Hull Divo.

Monstrous CBB hypocrite Hardeep Singh Kohli spending almost as much time boasting about his sexual conquests as he did virtue-signalling his feminist solidarity.

And the brainless internet lynch mob who stopped Roxanne Pallett taking part in Cinderella, with Rhydian Roberts, at the Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield.

Do you bozos want her to suffer or not?

TV questions of the week

WHY does Robbie Williams always wear his pyjamas to the X Factor auditions?

What medical miracle allows EastEnders characters to recover from a heart attack over a weekend?

Why has Naked Attraction got a “wardrobe department”?

And exactly what percentage of his Celebrity Big Brother fee will “Get rich or try giving” Hardeep Singh Kohli be donating to the poor? My guess is zero.

TV Gold

Eric Roberts on Celebrity Island.

Celebrity MasterChef’s Monty Panesar turning chicken cordon bleu into braised Yeti testicle within an hour.

Channel 4

When Hollywood star Eric Roberts isn’t napping, he does add a bit of gravitas to the Celebrity Island crew[/caption]

Gogglebox’s Jenny naming and shaming the tax avoiders who don’t get honours: “All those people who go to live in Jersey, like Bergerac.”

And the return to Good Morning Britain of Piers Morgan who, if he isn’t always at one with Susanna Reid, is certainly now in perfect harmony with the adverts for Anusol suppositories.

Welcome back, you throbbing great breakfast haemorrhoid.

Lies and delusions

Rex Features

Celebrity Big Brother’s Hardeep Singh Kohli claims he could have been more of an arse than he was…debatable[/caption]

Celebrity Big Brother, Hardeep Singh Kohli: “I don’t think I’ve been as much of an arse as I could’ve been.”

The X Factor, Kiki Piesare: “People have been telling me to take my singing to the next level.” (They meant basement).

And Celebrity MasterChef’s bellowing orca Gemma Collins: “I’m just going to focus on the food today.”

As opposed to what? Triathlons?


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