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Strictly Hot Air?


400px Alesha Dixon 4 150x150 Strictly Hot Air?

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A row has broken out in Britain over the axing of one of the judges from a highly popular talent show on the BBC, Strictly Come Dancing. A highly experienced choreographer, Arlene Phillips, has been replaced as a judge by a previous contest winner and R&B singer, Alesha Dixon.

That sounds innocuous enough. But less so when expressed in tabloidese: Nation’s favorite judge, 66, ousted by hot babe, 30! BBC viewers, average age 52, splutter into their cups of tea…

Respected broadcasters chip in. BBC Newsnight political editor Michael Crick condemns his peers as having “contempt for its viewers”.

Even Government weighs in. Culture Minister Ben Bradshaw warns the BBC not to succumb to “the cult of youth”. Equalities Minister, Harriet Harman, accuses the BBC in Parliament of ageism.

The general public has a whinge. First Sharon Osborne gets booted out as a judge of The X Factor, replaced by a young, cutesy (and, incidentally, much better) girl-bander, Cheryl Cole, now the same is to happen in Strictly Come Dancing!

What a load of hot air. As the BBC rightly says, Strictly Come Dancing is an entertainment show. Entertainment shows need continual refreshing. End of story.

Let’s revisit the concept of Key Kapabilities, or K2s. As introduced in the Backing U! books (Chapter 5), they are what employees need to do to succeed in their job. Or, for the self-employed, they’re what they need to get right to be able to meet customer needs and run a sound business.

What were the K2s for the job of judge on Strictly Come Dancing? I don’t know – I used to dance a bit of rock, soul, calypso and reggae in my time, and I would love one day to dance salsa and tango, but I can only imagine. How about if the most important K2s were: proven dancing knowledge; experience; screen presence; blend with other judges; and communication skills?

Phillips had all of that – a choreographer for Broadway and West End shows and Hot Gossip; years of experience; authoritative, pleasing presence; reasonable blend with other judges; and excellent communication of her points.

But after five hugely successful years, the show needed refreshing. And that introduced a new K2 into the mix: freshness.

Enter Dixon. Not a professional dancer, but pretty good and a proven winner on the very show. Good experience of showbusiness, having fronted a successful all-girl R&B band, Miss-Teeq, for 6 years before going solo. Stunning screen presence. Potentially electric blend with other judges. Good communication skills.

And, above all, fresh.

So: not only does Dixon rate highly against the formerly important K2s, but she has no contest against the new K2 of freshness.

It’s a no brainer. Sure, there will be people who see undercurrents of ageism, sexism, looksism, maybe even reverse-racism in the decision, but they are oblivious to the hard, commercial reality of the labor market.

The rules of the game had changed. The contract was up for renewal. Dixon was best placed for the job. Someone wins, someone loses. That’s the labor market. That’s life.

Sure it’s tough on Phillips. But she has been fortunate to have had such an amazing employment experience in her 60s, when so many are cast out of the workforce in the private, non-taxpayer funded world in their 50s.

Noone, Mr Crick, Mr Bradshaw, Ms Harman, and other hot air blowers, owes any of us a job.

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  1. Alesha has had a detrimental effect on Strictly, when she talks or laughs it makes you cringe! I would much rather Arlene can back, then i would not have to use the mute button.

  2. I can understand your comment, Kath, but my point was that the BBC had the right to freshen up the show with a new face. Whether or not they made the correct decision is a different issue…!


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