More outrage and condemnation have, naturally, followed, but A A Gill, writing in yesterday's Sunday Times - before the latest news broke - put the controversy neatly into perspective...
On Strictly Come Dancing, a terpsichorially challenged audience failed to dismiss the political broadcaster John Sergeant for not dancing properly, or at all. One of the judges — the strangest collection of human effluvia this side of Grimms’ Fairy Tales — admonished us by saying we must remember this was a dancing competition.
Now, I think it’s time I called the old dancing judges... into my office to remind them of a few home truths. Listen carefully, all of you. Strictly Come Dancing is not a dancing competition. The X Factor is not a talent contest. The Queen Vic is not a real pub, and Basil Brush isn’t actually a talking fox. They are all entertainments.
Dragons’ Den isn’t real venture capitalism, and I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! isn’t a real jungle or, indeed, real celebrity, and everybody there has been begging their agents to get them in it. You are all suffering from a common green-room delusion: you believe your own billing. You are not on television because you’re experts or gurus. You’re there because you’re either funny, hateful or shaggable, and if you’re in any doubt which, then it’s not the latter.
That pretty much sums it up, I'd have said - though I was devastated to read that revelation about Basil Brush!
It should also be pointed out that the Beeb clearly invited John Sergeant (as they did Jimmy Tarbuck last year) with an eye to his adding a little comic relief to the proceedings - and, in the early stages of the competition, making the other dancers look better than they actually were. If the great British public have now seen through that somewhat callous ruse and decided to continue promoting the jester towards the throne, well, then they've no one to blame but themselves.