Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Justin Lee Collins says that Brucie should step down from hosting Strictly Come Dancing. He's right.

There should always be a space for Brucie on British television, but it shouldn't necessarily be a weekly live show that usually runs for over an hour. When he was on the Gen Game, he was the best ringmaster TV's ever had - watch those old recordings and you'll see a man in complete control of his domain, making sure that hapless punters hit their marks and get the laughs. The Equity strike-bound Sunday Night at the London Palladium featuring just him and Norman Wisdom is a breathless masterclass in entertainment, and I speak as someone for whom a little Wisdom goes a very very long way. Unfortunately, I can't watch Strictly without thinking "Oh, Bruce, no" far too many times for my own good.

As in so many things, Wogan leads the way. He's going from the Radio 2 breakfast show on his own terms, with ratings higher than ever, and with the grace to wish his successor the very best. I think the experience of his BBC1 chat show still haunts him - he overstayed his welcome there and had to take a lot of flak from the press as a result. Live and learn. He also stepped down from the Eurovision Song Contest on an apparent point of principle, with honour intact. Despite being one of his greatest fans, I sensed him descending further into self-parody year by year, and am glad he got out when he did. The only downer there was that the commentary job didn't go to Paddy O'Connell, who gets Eurosong utterly and would have been great, but I have to admit that my dire predictions for Graham Norton's commentary didn't come to pass, and the whole experience began an unlikely rehabilitation of Norton, compounded by his pitch-perfect 'one foot in the grave' dig at Michael McIntyre on BAFTA night.

As I type, a solution has occurred to me. Make Forsyth one of the judges. He'd be there and he could bring his full experience to bear on the situation, but he wouldn't have to carry the whole show. Failing that, just shove him in TC1 with a piano, an orchestra, Tarby, Lynchy, some chairs, some tap shoes and an audience. Agreeing with Justin Lee Collins is slightly annoying, by the way. I hear from people in the industry that he's a sweetie, and that's nice to know, but it doesn't stop me thinking that he should step down from television.


Kecske said...

I love the TC1 idea. I think "Gavin Sutherland and His Orchestra" are available.

LF Barfe said...

Who is this Gareth Sunderland of what you speak? Is he cheap? And will he wear an Alyn Ainsworth wig to replicate the 'Sammy and Bruce' effect?

Seriously, I wonder if anyone in authority would buy the Gavin Sutherland Band Show? I'd watch.

Robin Carmody said...

You don't even have to like Brucie to be awed by him: nobody else played midwife to the transition from the old working-class culture of music hall and variety to the American-led mass culture that seeped through post-Suez, and yet stayed around long enough to be at the heart of perhaps the biggest shift in mass culture *since* then. He is the bridge - the only bridge - from Macmillan to Cameron. Strictly is off my radar, but I agree that when such a man does go, it should be as dignified as possible.

(Incidentally, I think someone should tell BBC journalists what the correct British English past participle of the verb "to leap" is, before it becomes a completely lost cause.)

Robin Carmody said...

(well, he isn't quite the only bridge, because there's also Cliff Richard - who headlined the highest-rated Palladium show, fronted by Brucie of course, ever 50 years ago next January - but Cliff can hardly be said to have reached a new audience this decade in the same way.)

Kecske said...

I'd love to see a big LE TV show featuring an orchestra too. If it's Gavin (he wrote Sailing for Rod Stewart when he was two years old according to Wikipedia, which makes him even better than Mozart) I'd make him wear a bowler hat and conduct with an umbrella Hazlehurst stylee.