Strictly Come Dancing Live is exactly as described: the television show performed on stage. Celebrities from the 2010 season, plus old-timers Ricky Whittle and Colin Jackson, are paired with professionals, and each couple performs a ballroom and a Latin routine (most as seen on TV). These are rated by the judging panel (minus Alesha Dixon) and the audience, with winners announced at the end. There’s the same theme music, the same lighting, and two giant screens show the same relentlessly upbeat “in training” videos. In fact, as the entire show is relayed on to these screens, you could almost ignore the live aspect altogether and pretend you were watching the real thing: TV.
This simulacrum will make no new converts, but fans will find the same virtues. The judges are pantomime figures: dependable uncle Len Goodman, drama queen Bruno Tonioli and wicked witch Craig Revel Horwood. Host Zoë Ball is our twinkly fairy godmother, and the players, a motley mix of ages and abilities, give the show an endearingly am-dram heart.
The dancing is less important than the audience’s relation to it: if few aspire to the polish of Kara Tointon, many can put themselves in the shoes of cute Tina O’Brien, teeteringly fallible Patsy Kensit or glamorous granny Pamela Stephenson.
Crucially, no one feels shy about passing judgment, and in that spirit I say: Tointon is the best dancer, Matt Baker has a winning samba wiggle, Ann Widdecombe – for it is she, in a non-competitive role – successfully continues to erase her political persona, and Stephenson is quite a goer. And to the hectoring warm-up act, Jimi Mistry’s paso doble to Thriller, and the cameo by a Latin-American formation dance team: a world of no.