Five Years on the Show – And Still Doesn’t Understand How the Public Vote

Digital Spy this morning picked up on a Craig Revel Horwood interview in the News of the World where he lets rip over a number of the contestants in Strictly Come Dancing. It’s not until you’ve seen the recorded results show that is now held over from Saturday to Sunday night that you realise quite why he is so annoyed.

This year the rules were changed to give the judges the final decision over who is going to leave, apparently as a result of a number of the shock exits last year where the struggling couple scraped through at the expense of much better competition. The problem is that it has backfired, and is just not working like that. Tonight in particular all the struggling couples were lifted well out of the bottom two by the voting public leaving the couples placed fourth and sixth by the judges to dance it out.

This resulted in much head scratching from most people in the audience, all sorts of discussion on the fan forums, and some decidedly frustrated judges. But the dynamics of the way the public votes haven’t changed, and as always the judges, and Craig especially just don’t seem to get it. Craig seems to think that the public are out to humiliate Kate Garraway but it’s nothing of the sort. Essentially the judges will mark on aptitude (although there is always a bit of favouritism too) and the public tend to vote on effort, however they’ll also tend to vote to protect contestants who have had an unfairly hard time from the judges. Essentially all the judges have to do is deliver a low mark, or in particular come out with a pithy one-liner or rude comparison at the expense of a contestant, and they’re pretty well guaranteeing they’ll go into the next round. It was clear right from the start of the first series with Christopher Parker being carried through all the way to the final for exactly that reason. Usually it’s someone who finishes mid-table who ends up being voted off as the public vote for people they think have been given a hard time, and it was much the same tonight.

Kate and Anton’s performance gets called a Samba nightmare, and she gets called a dancing quail – that’s ensured they’re through. Kenny and Ola’s performance is described as a dance disaster, and he gets told he has the grace of a vacuum cleaner and again they’re through. John and Nicole get heavily marked down by Craig, and again they go through, until it gets to the middle table where people had hiccups so missed out on the top spot, but didn’t get a hard time from the judges that the public feel like they need help so they don’t get votes and end up in the dance off.

All the judges have been doing the show for five years, and they just don’t seem to get it! Although the forum fans are calling it a farce, what makes it fascinating to watch is the interplay between the dance, the comments from the judges, and the public appeal, as such it has, and still is incredibly difficult to predict. After last night I knew it probably wouldn’t be any of the bottom three or four, just a question of how far up the table it would go…

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