Sunday, 5 December 2010

The Times: Caitlin on Ann

Caitlin Moran writes on television in the review section of Saturday's Times. Her banner tells us she is "Columnist of the Year". This is what she has to say about Ann Widdecombe's participation in BBC One's Strictly Come Dancing, on 4th December.
On Strictly, Widdecombe has become the new John Sargeant: voted for, week after week, by the public despite her dancing style sitting somewhere on the spectrum between "Volvo getting a push-start" and "wardrobe being knocked over".
So, far very much in the spirit of Strictly and on a par with the accounts that some of the judges have given of Ann Widdecombe's dancing. But fast forward three paragraphs, and:
Widdecombe's continuing public popularity is bizarre. All current data indicates that her moral system works at the outermost limits of most of modern society's: she opposed the repeal of Clause 28; denies climate change; is anti-abortion; opposed the ordination of female priests: and, when Minister for Prisons, insisted that even pregnant prisoners be shackled.
I'm not sure how much of this is just simply true and how much of it has been "enhanced" or "spun".
One can only presume that the viewing public don't really know anything about her career at all, that they just think she's the cute old granny with the massive knockers who looks a bit like a Flump.
Well, ageism and sexism are both writ large here! This is not in the spirit of even the most robust comment on Strictly.
I really hope that is the case. Because if the public do know what Widdecombe's parliamentary record consisted of - essentially, voting "Yes" on any legislation that wouldn't have looked out of place in the court of Henry V - her popularity establishes a worrying precedent. On the back of her success we might presume that, even as we speak, the agents of Nick Griffin, Abu Hamza al-Masri and that couple who christened their baby "Adolf Hitler" are all being asked how their clients feel about sequins, fake tan and the cha-cha-cha.
If dear Caitlin is comparing the views of Ann Widdecombe to those of Nick Griffin et al - and I can't see that this last paragraph does anything else - then that is quite offensive. And a quite untrue comparison.

From what I have seen on Youtube, Ann Widdecombe has put herself fully into the Strictly experience and, in my view, has been treated very well by the makers and other participants in the programme. Now that she has been voted out she has had the opportunity to say just how much she has enjoyed herself on the programme. Her departure has, of course, made the news headlines on BBC Radio this evening.

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