Strictly Come Dancing has been far from quiet this series. Not only has Anton caused a race row, Ali Bastian has fallen for her dance partner and Jo Wood’s been branded a bush kangaroo. But despite all the controversy, there’s still only one question on everyone’s lips: should Alesha Dixon have replaced Arlene Phillips on the panel?
I’ve never been a huge Arlene fan. I know she has a wealth of technical experience and has taught choreography for years. But most of her comments on the show seemed to be either unintelligible sound bites or unwanted overtures to the male contestants. I’ll never forget the mixture of embarrassment and pain on Mark Ramprakash’s face as she raved about his “snake hips”. Or the forced smiles of the other male celebrities who had to fight off the female equivalent of Len Goodman, who seems to enjoy the skimpy Strictly costumes far too much. Saying all that though, I do miss Arlene.
Yes, she could be irritating, cutting and sometimes bizarre. But she was like an annoying relative. You can’t wait to get rid of them when they’re with you, yet for some inexplicable reason you miss them when they’re gone. Although Alesha’s nice enough, she just doesn’t come out with meaningless metaphors the way Arlene used to. In a quest to find out if I was the only one suffering from Arlene withdrawal, I asked a few people on the street:
Do you think Alesha Dixon has made a good replacement for Arlene Philips on Strictly Come Dancing?
Ann Goodman, 54, lecturer, Cardiff
“No, Arlene Phillips has a lot experience with choreography and I think she’s the expert on that.”
Kieran Hart, 25, traffic warden, Cardiff
“To be honest, no, just because she doesn’t have Arlene’s experience.”
Vicky Bailey, 31, receptionist, Bristol
“Yes, I can’t stand Arlene Phillips so I think Alesha’s an improvement. At least she doesn’t sexually harass the male contestants!”
Jack Howell, 51, construction worker, Bristol
“No, I think she’s a nice girl but she doesn’t say anything that we wouldn’t say at home.”
Sue Kendrick, 45, housewife, Bath
“Not really, it’s a shame because she was great before on the show, but I just don’t think it’s worked the same way as it
Rhian Jones, 19, shop assistant, Bristol
“Yeah, I think it’s good to change things once in a while. You get bored with the same old judges all the time, don’t you?”
Caroline Wain, 47, housewife, Gloucestershire
“Personally I don’t. I don’t dislike her but I don’t think she’s got enough insight into dancing.”
So it looks as though I’m not the only one missing Arlene’s bizarre charm. Rumour has it that she may rejoin the series after being asked back for the Strictly Come Dancing live tour. Perhaps Arlene will be making a comeback in the near future? Watch this space.