Saturday 26 September 2009

Give Strictly’s Alesha a chance!

It’s Saturday night and I’m at home watching BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing. It’s amazing how one dance show can generate so much controversy every year. Last year it was John Sergeant, defying the judges and winning the public’s sympathy vote. Now this year after just one show, we’ve had this huge public backlash against Alesha Dixon's performance as a judge!

A lot of it has been totally over the top and quite mean spirited! Last week was her first show as a judge, yet people were already calling for her to be replaced. She’s totally new to the role, yet some people don’t even want to give her a chance!

This backlash stems from the fact the Dixon replaced the previous judge Arlene Phillips, a decision made by the BBC who were then quickly accused of ageism by replacing a 66 year old with the 30 year old Dixon.

The BBC’s decision could very well be interpreted as ageism, but it’s totally unfair for the viewing public to take issue with that decision and heap all the blame on Alesha Dixon’s shoulders.

Most of the criticisms levelled at her, claim that she's out of her depth, unqualified, and doesn’t possess the technical knowledge to accurately critique the contestants on the show. Other comments just sound like childish bullying!

From what I’ve seen so far, it’s clear that she doesn’t have the same expertise and knowledge of the other judges, but I don’t understand why she should have?

Clearly it's important that she can give critical analysis of each contestant's performance as nobody wants to hear bland, banal comments, but surely if the BBC are responsible for anything, it's that they should provide her with the necessary support and training in order that she can provide proper analysis on each dance and performance.

I’ve read that on a number of Internet message boards people have highlighted Arlene Phillips’ knowledge and experience in dance choreography, in direct contrast to Alesha Dixon; but It’s funny how so many people are now commenting on how great Phillips was on the show along with the other judges. But yet, she and the rest of them were heavily criticised during last year's show by viewers for being unfairly cruel and harsh with their comments against the former BBC One journalist and political reporter John Sergeant.

The public actively voted to keep Sergeant in, despite the fact that he was clearly out of his depth and had no dancing ability whatsoever. People complain when the judges are too harsh, then they complain when the judges aren’t harsh or critical enough, as in this case with Dixon. It sounds like hypocrisy from people!

I don’t see that Dixon’s role is to have the same expertise as the other judges. She’s somebody who the contestants can identify with, as she’s been on the show and lets not forget actually won it in 2007.

Not only did she win, but personally she was probably the most naturally talented and gifted contestant that the show has ever had! She’s not completely ignorant of the dances that the contestants are performing, she's had to tackle all of them herself, and for the most part mastered them.

Check out her performance of the tango below:

When anyone takes up a new activity whether it’s a new job, sport, any type of hobby, you need a mixture of proper critique from people who have the knowledge and expertise to point out your faults and failings, but you also need encouragement, and for people to point out the things you’re doing well and areas you’re improving in. It's important to have people who can empathise with you.

That’s what I see Alesha Dixon’s role as being. She’s the judge who knows what all the contestants have been through, and can relate to the feelings, emotions and pressures that their under.

She can be the voice of encouragement, mixed in with the technical knowledge that if given the chance she can develop. The BBC seem to echo some of my views as a spokesperson was quoted as saying:

Having won the contest in 2007 Alesha understands exactly what it takes to excel as a dancer as well as knowing just what the celebrity contestants are going through in the competition. Her knowledge and direct experience adds a different perspective to the panel which complements the whole judging lineup."

The BBC have said that they fully intend to stick with Dixon which I’m glad to hear, it would be ridiculous to replace her now. If it’s decided after a whole series that things aren’t really working out, then fair enough maybe she should be replaced, but at least give her a chance to grow into the role.

I thought one of the great attractions of Strictly Come Dancing was about seeing contestants who have no history or experience of professional dancing, and seeing them learn and develop and evolve into proper dancers. I can’t see why this same principle can’t be applied to Alesha Dixon in regards to her judging.

I shall naturally be watching the whole of Strictly this year, and I will be rooting for Alesha to do well and hopefully she can prove the ‘haters’ out there that they're wrong.

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