Strictly Come Dancing: No more guest judges, please

The X Factor might be used to an ever-changing judging panel, but we need consistency and precision from ours, says Ellie Walker-Arnott

Strictly Come Dancing added another celebrity to its line up this weekend, as Donny Osmond joined the panel as a guest judge. But viewers, tweeters and James Jordan weren’t impressed.


Puppy Love singer Osmond might have won the American version of Strictly – Dancing with the Stars – but when it came to casting votes, I didn’t rate him either. 

His scores were inconsistent, his technical knowledge hit and miss and his presence on the show generally unnecessary. We’ve already got a lovely line up of trusted judges, why would we need someone else to throw their opinions into the mix?

Plus it certainly wasn’t his place to award the first perfect 10 of the series. Yes, Frankie’s Paso was impressive, but if Len, Bruno and Darcey all say it’s a 9, it’s a 9. 

We, like Donny, might like to think we know our stuff when it comes to cha chas and foxtrots but I think it’s fair to say even the most dedicated Strictly fans don’t really know that much about dancing. We’re in it for the sparkles, the spins and the bronzed celebrity bodies not accurate hand holds, frames and pivots. 

Without an extensive dance background, it’s sometimes hard to tell how well someone is actually moving. You might love a celebrity’s costume (the hemlines of those swirly dresses are enough to distract me from some disaaaaaaastrous footwork), it might be funny or hugely entertaining, but that doesn’t mean it’s technically correct. 

And that’s where Len, Bruno, Darcey and Craig helpfully come in. We rely on them to tell us whether a celebrity really is good or not. 

We can trust Craig to provide a suitably pessimistic reaction, yet we know he’s a stickler for accuracy and precision. We know it takes a lot to impress him and we know when he’s pleased that a celebrity must be really very good.

Darcey is a little kinder. She’s fair and never catty, often offering the contestants practical advice. And nearly always commenting on any exposed muscle. 

Len is no-fuss, down-to-earth, daddy of the judging panel – he’ll tell you if something needs improving, but he’ll get excited if the dance requires it too.

And Bruno is there for his theatrical reaction. If a performance is really good he’ll be unable to sit still – he might even fall off his chair. 

But whatever judgement our judges pass, we trust them. We might boo and hiss (oh, only me then?) if they criticise our favourites or score lower than we’d like, but ultimately we are confident that they know what they are talking about and that whatever the result, it will be fair. 

The X Factor might change its judging panel as often as Claudia Winkleman trips up in her heels, but Strictly Come Dancing is based around hard-learned skill and talent. You need more than a pair of ears to tell if something’s good or not. And just as they demand it on the dance floor, we need consistency and precision from our judging panel. 


Strictly Come Dancing continues on Saturday at 6:30pm on BBC1