DAN WOOTTON: I thought Strictly Come Dancing was meant to feature celebrities, but I haven’t heard of the majority of this lot. Yet again, the BBC has put box-ticking before entertainment to create the worst line-up ever
My Strictly Come Dancing failure test is a simple one.
If, as someone whose career for many years was covering the entertainment industry, I have to Google one of the names excitedly announced by the BBC to work out who the hell they are, then the producers simply haven’t done their job properly.
In recent years, this has become a more regular occurrence, as Beeb bosses ban stars from other channels and mainstream faces from reality TV, choosing to use the show as a diversity exercise and a way to increase the fame of its low-profile personalities.
But the dire 2022 group of aspiring hoofers wins the glitterball trophy as the worst Strictly line-up ever, full of non-entities and unknowns.
In fact, I had to Google the majority.
I completely understand the show is a great way to unleash a couple of newcomers at primetime each year, but that only works if they’re surrounded by genuinely famous faces.
This is not a reflection on the contestants themselves, who I’m sure are great people whose box office value at the Beeb will skyrocket after taking to the dancefloor.
It’s a criticism of the BBC itself whose executives have decided to put box ticking before entertainment, to hell with the viewers.
Radio presenter Richie Anderson, 34, was announced as the third celebrity confirmed for this year’s Strictly Come Dancing, and he will be part of an all-male partnership
Scottish TV star Kaye Adams, 59, (left) and former Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds OBE, 27, (right) are both contestants in this year’s Strictly
The joy of Strictly always used to be watching faces we were innately familiar with out of their comfort zone having to awkwardly tango, saucily chacha and intimately waltz with their professional partner.
It’s easy to forget the type of A-list talent Strictly used to attract.
Famous international popstars Spice Girl Emma Bunton, Alesha Dixon, Michelle Williams from Destiny’s Child, Lulu, and Anastacia.
Household name TV presenters Carol Vorderman, Fiona Phillips, Natasha Kaplinsky, Esther Rantzen, Jeremy Vine, Zoe Ball, Fern Britton and Vanessa Feltz.
Singer Fleur East was the twelfth contestant named in the line-up for Stricly Come Dancing 2022. She became emotional as she told how she is competing in this year’s series in memory of her late father Malcolm, who ‘adored’ the BBC show
Red carpet celeb favourites Penny Lancaster-Stewart, Kelly Brook, Jerry Hall and Julian Clarey.
Legendary sportspeople Denise Lewis, Colin Jackson, John Barnes and Mark Ramprakash.
Favourite soap stars Letitia Dean, Jessie Wallace, Natalie Cassidy and Patsy Kensit.
And the genuine magical originals like Ann Widdecombe, Ed Balls, Russell Grant and John Sergeant who we’ll never forget, largely for the wrong reasons.
Instead, this year the woke BBC bosses have offered up rising star talent of which few of us will be overly familiar.
There’s Jayde Adams, a feminist comedian who’s appeared on left-wing comedy panels whose current show in Edinburgh is called Men, I Can Save You.
It’s not hard to see why the left-wing Beeb plumped for her – she’s completely aligned with its agenda.
Wildlife cameraman and presenter Hamza Yassin, 35, was announced as the 13th contestant joining the Strictly Come Dancing line-up on Thursday
Retired footballer for Arsenal and England Tony Adams MBE, 55, (left) and singer Matt Goss, 53, (right) who is best known for being the lead singer of 1980s pop group Bros
Ellie Taylor, 38, a comedian, actress and television personality was revealed as the ninth celebrity contestant for this year’s Strictly Come Dancing
Kiss FM radio DJ Tyler West, 26, (left) and singer Molly Rainford, 21, (right), who was a finalist in the sixth series of Britain’s Got Talent, are both contestants in the 2022 series
In her most recent interview in the Independent she spoke about why it’s easy to produce comedy about ‘straight white guys’, explaining: ‘No one’s going to come for me if I start doing jokes about Gregg Wallace,’
Outlining why she thinks men are now in need of help, she explained: ‘It’s not women, women are nailing it. And then the gender-free people, they seem to be having a great time as well. We’re smashing it, babes… Everyone’s just really coming into their own and men are having to work a bit harder.’
The BBC’s hunt for new female comics doesn’t end there. The second signing is Ellie Taylor, a regular on panel shows 8 Out of 10 Cats to Mock The Week, which have been criticised for their lack of female stars.
Pictured: Dan Wootton
Then there’s Richie Anderson, half of this year’s now obligatory same sex couple who presents the travel on BBC Radio 2.
Molly Rainford is another up and coming face of the corporation, starring in the CBBC drama Nova Jones having first appeared on Britain’s Got Talent as an 11-year-old.
Wildlife cameraman Hamza Yassin certainly didn’t pass the Google test. Apparently he’s a regular on BBC nature shows, including Countryfile and Animal Park.
Tyler West is a Kiss FM DJ but has been earmarked for greater things by the BBC, having hosted shows on BBC3 like Stacey Dooley did before she competed on Strictly.
I have to admit I’d also never heard of James Bye, but at least he’s a major star on EastEnders, the failing BBC1 soap in desperate need of a ratings boost.
Things pick up somewhat with the signing of soap legends Kym Marsh and Will Mellor, both household names. Kym now hosts the BBC’s daytime show Morning Live.
Likewise, I knew Loose Women star Kaye Adams (a BBC Scotland DJ), Bros member Matt Goss, Paralympic swimming star Ellie Symonds, the lovely presenter Helen Skelton, whose split recently headlines, ex-England footballer Tony Adams, and highly talented X Factor ace Fleur East, who must be an early favourite.
But with all the will in the world, there are no genuine A-listers here.
And that’s the problem with putting an obsession with informal quotas and BBC internal promotion ahead of finding the biggest stars prepared to strut their stuff.
It’s not as if Strictly itself has lost its kudos.
Sure, ratings have dropped off the last couple of years, with Covid providing particular challenges, but it remains one of the most sought-after TV shows for major celebrities looking for a boost, with the only reputational risk being falling for the dreaded Strictly curse.
Sadly, with this year’s line-up of largely non-celebs, I’m not certain I’ll care whatever happens.