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Why Strictly Come Dancing should ditch the public vote

Helen George shouldn't have left, Georgia May Foote shouldn't have been in the bottom two - is it time we left the judging to the judges? asks Ellie Walker-Arnott

Published: Monday, 7th December 2015 at 4:43 pm

The British public, eh? It would appear that we can’t be trusted.


We've reached the final few weeks of Strictly Come Dancing, and we’re letting dancers like Helen George leave the competition.

It’s not the first time we’ve let this happen. Last year saw Pixie Lott, statistically the series’ best dancer, leave in the quarter-final.

Obviously we are an opinionated lot, we like to have our say – and our voice has its time and place. We wouldn’t have had weeks and weeks of Jeremy Vine stalking around the floor in sequined suits without the public vote, and I have to admit that would have been a shame.

But at this point in the competition – two weeks from the final – we are out of our depth. Though it's fun in the early stages, the public vote just gets in the way when things get serious. We’re not dance experts, the judges are. Craig, Len and co get to score and critique our celebs' weekly efforts and ultimately decide who of the bottom two leaves. Why not let them have complete control over who makes it to the next stage?

The standard this year is seriously high. All the dancers left in the competition as we approach the semi-final are worthy competitors. But it’s frustrating when, because of the public vote, the wrong dancers are facing the dance-off or hanging up their shoes before the Grand Final.

Helen might have had an off week after suffering balance issues during her Les Miserables-inspired Paso, and, up against Georgia, she had to leave. But the judges wouldn't have sent her home if it weren't for the vote, which meant the second best dancer of the weekend found herself in the bottom two.

Having a public vote right up until the bitter end makes sense in a show like The X Factor; the competition is about who could potentially sell records in the real world. But Strictly isn’t about the real world, it’s about celebrities mastering a skill. It’s about hand placement, the precise angle of your head, and the way the dancer’s feet move across the floor. It’s about those details that we miss because we’re not ballroom experts and we're easily distracted by dazzling dresses, captivating characterisation and a good tune.

Strictly is synonymous with the judges’ leaderboard. Tess and Claud don’t ever reveal exactly how the public voted or ‘go to deadlock’ to decide who leaves. The public vote isn’t used in a dramatic way to ratchet up the tension or drive a narrative the way it is in a show like X Factor

So if you ask me, it’s time Strictly rethinks the public vote. Perhaps, when it comes to the crunch, we should let the experts decide who lifts that all-important Glitterball Trophy. 


Strictly Come Dancing continues on Saturday at 6:50pm on BBC1


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