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This Should Be Interesting

November 13, 2009

We have a new host in store for tomorrow night’s Strictly Come Dancing. Bruce Forsyth has flu, and Tess Daly is stepping into his role as the main host of the show.

Whilst I hope that Bruce recovers soon, I will be quite happy if he feels the need to take a month or so off. I believe that he has been a great entertainer in the past, but it is probably time for him to have a break. Whenever a replacement for him as show host is discussed, many people point out that there are few people currently posed to take over a high profile, live hosting choice. Well, in my opinion, one of the reasons for this is that the older presenters, who are associated with big name shows, stick around for so long, that none of the younger presenters get a chance. Another popular criticism, not limited to Strictly, is that younger presenters have only worked on lightweight or children’s shows. In response to that, I would point to Jake Humphrey, a former CBBC presenter, who anchored parts of the Beijing Olympics, and the BBC Superbowl show, and this year took on the anchor role for the BBC F1 coverage.

When he was announced as host, there was much made of the fact that he had no F1 experience, and he had come up through children’s TV, but I think it’s fair to say that he has been one of the best parts of the coverage. He’s kept control of his sidekicks, which wasn’t always easy, and has only really been out of his depth once, interviewing Bernie Ecclestone live. I think most people would struggle to get a straight answer out of an unco-operative Bernie, so I’m quite prepared to give Jake a pass on that one.

If  Tess is not to take over from Bruce in the long term, then there are a few people who I would like to see given a chance. I don’t think that the idea of a guest host (like Have I Got News For You) would work, and I would like to think that the BBC would give any new presenter who was not a complete shambles at least one series to get used to the role. If you believe that the show has to be hosted by a male (I don’t particularly), then my ideal choice would be Tom Bergeron, current host of Dancing With The Stars. He is basically Bruce, but funny and a bit younger. I do accept that this is fantasy casting, and would never happen, but a girl can dream.

In reality, people I think should be considered for such a role are Gethin Jones and Aled Jones, both former contestants who know the format, and both have experience at live TV and large live events. I have also heard people suggest Adrian Chiles, who certainly has the live TV experience, but I’m not sure that his ‘bumbling’ persona is really suited to Strictly, which has to work to a tight show schedule. For the same reason, I would also rule out ex-contestant Bill Turnbull. Whilst he was popular on the show, and has experience of live presenting with Breakfast, I’m not sure he would be right for the main presenter’s job. I’d also like the BBC to keep away from the usual suspects who pop up for jobs like this – John Barrowman and Graham Norton. I don’t think the show needs the draw of a big name, and I would prefer to see someone else given a chance. The other name, always offered as a succession option is Anton Du Beke. For me, that would be the only thing worse than Bruce carrying on for another 5 years. Please, producers, don’t do it.

Anyway, for this week, whilst Tess is out front, someone will have to fill in for her backstage. Claudia is an option, given her experience on It Takes Two, but might not be so effective with only a line or two to each couple. Another possibility is James Jordan. He has done some fantastic backstage reports for ITT in the last couple of weeks, and is very natural in front of the camera, however I don’t think he’s done much in the way of unscripted live presenting, so it would be a risk on the BBC’s part. It would be a slightly left-field choice, but would nicely subvert the male/female traditional roles, which appeals to me.

Of course, if the show was to go with Tess and James, then the various forums would likely go into meltdown. Tess is frequently written off as a clothes-horse and takes a lot of flak for her accent. I heard one suggestion that she had been gone from Lancashire for long enough that she should have lost it by now, and must be putting it on. It doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I do not feel that the BBC should restrict itself to Home Counties accents, despite having one myself. She has a good, clear voice, and I do not think that anyone struggles to understand her, it is simply an easy and lazy criticism. James also has a lovely strong Essex accent, and speaks in a similar way to Alesha, who has been heavily criticised for saying ‘You done well’ instead of ‘You did well’, amongst many others. Once again, it really doesn’t bother me, I enjoy listening to him, and would be happy to see him standing in this weekend. Whilst my favourite male pro, Matthew Cutler, is also sadly out of the competition, I’m not sure he would be so happy being in front of the camera so much, although if he does it, I’ll be very happy!

UPDATED – turns out I can’t read properly. The BBC have confirmed that it will be Claudia filling in, in the Tesspit. I can understand why, and in a way this is just as good as a female presenter with a male sidekick – it’s not often that a prime time TV show is presented by two females!


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