JENNI MURRAY: Now I’m so relieved I failed the fitness test for Strictly
How I longed to say yes when I was asked, earlier in the year, to join Strictly Come Dancing. I imagined myself being swept across the floor by an elegant, handsome man who would have spent hours teaching me how to play the hard part in the partnership — after all, the woman has to dance backwards in heels.
I had a Zoom meeting with the producers and did my best to talk myself up. I told them how my dad and I had waltzed and done the cha-cha when I was little. How I’d been sent for ballroom lessons aged eight and spent two years learning what my mother felt was an essential skill for any lady.
I explained how much I’d loved to dance at parties and balls as a young woman, and how I’d taken part in Stravinsky’s ballet The Rite Of Spring at university, under the direction of a tartar of a dance teacher. I was considered to have a good sense of rhythm.
I wouldn’t mind being glittered up or even the joke candidate. Just taking part was bound to be fun.
Jenni Murray says subsequent events would suggest she’s had a lucky escape by failing the fitness test for Strictly. Pictured: Tom Fletcher with his dance partner Amy Dowden
But then, oh dear, the physiotherapist. Everyone had to have their fitness checked before they’d be allowed to do it.
I came clean. I mentioned my replaced hips, my scoliosis and sciatica, my dodgy ankle — high heels would be out of the question. I could feel their enthusiasm wavering as fast as a jive. It was not to be.
Subsequent events would suggest I’ve had a lucky escape. I’m baffled that three unvaccinated professional dancers have been allowed to take part when the risk of Covid infection is still so high. One couple who gave a brilliant performance last Saturday, Tom Fletcher from the band McFly and his partner, Amy Dowden, have tested positive for the virus.
There’s no suggestion they were vaccine refuseniks, but their hopes of being high on the leaderboard have been dashed. They won’t be able to appear this weekend.
When I took part in The Real Full Monty On Ice last year there was no vaccine available — that only came in for my age group this year.
Testing was rigorous, as I’m sure it has been on Strictly, but it seems selfish to hold another person as closely as possible without feeling it’s your duty to protect yourself and them in the most obvious way — get the jab.
Jenni (pictured), who has been a fan of Strictly since it began, said the BBC should persuade all participants to be vaccinated
I had told myself I wouldn’t watch the show this year. I’d be too jealous of all the glitz, glamour and skill of those who made it past the physio.
In the end I couldn’t resist. I’ve been a fan since it began in 2004, despite the autumnal moans of the men in my family, ‘Oh no, not Strictly again!’
Frankly, judging by the standard, I’ve had another lucky escape. There is no joke candidate. For a first show, the high level of performance was phenomenal. I could never have competed.
I hope the actor Greg Wise does well. I’ve always been fond of his wife, Emma Thompson, and I’d like her to be proud of him.
But my money’s on the two guys — John Whaite and Johannes Radebe. Their rhythm and enthusiasm is obvious. So clever of Johannes to leap out of a cake to meet his partner. So camp and appropriate as John is, of course, a Great British Baker. Their tango was beautiful. It was originally danced by two men, as the ‘tango of the compadron’, so the choice was perfect.
Now, please BBC, make sure Covid-19 is sent packing and doesn’t become a sneaky, aggressive compadre. Persuade all to be vaccinated; test, test and test again; and pray Tom and Amy are back on the dancefloor ASAP. We need the colour of the show as the nights draw in, so look after your stars — and your audience.
Ageism? pah, they’re just vain
Dame Eileen Atkins, 87, (pictured) said her fellow veterans, who complain about the lack of parts for older women, are vain and can’t get over the loss of the great beauty they once had
Don’t you just love Dame Eileen Atkins who, at 87 and still working, has ticked off her fellow veterans for complaining that there are no parts for older women?
She calls them vain and says they can’t get over the loss of the great beauty they once had.
‘There are plenty of parts,’ she says, ‘if you’re willing to make yourself look lousy.’ She looks great to me.
Protests! Petrol! And paranoia!
Wouldn’t it have been lovely to spend the last couple of weekends of this Indian summer by the seaside? It wasn’t to be and I can barely express how angry I am.
My journey to my family home on the coast involves the North Circular, the A40, the M40, the M25 and the M3. You might be starting to guess why I’m so furious that I didn’t dare to risk trying to get there.
I’m all for combating climate change, but has it not occurred to those idiots blocking the M25 that you don’t elicit the sympathy of the populace for your cause by making their lives a misery? Take the train, someone said. Not easy with two dogs and a cat in tow.
I was determined that this week I would do it. I had a quarter of a tank in my Mini. It wouldn’t get me beyond Farnham in Surrey. So I decided to fill up with petrol yesterday. Not a chance. A main road into London was blocked by cars. I could feel the aggression emanating from the petrol station. Wasn’t going to go there.
A message on our neighbourhood app asked if anyone could help a midwife who needed petrol to get to work. No help was offered.
Then there’s the smart motorway. All I can think of is the possibility of breaking down on the ‘smart’ part of the M3 and having nowhere to pull over safely. For the first time I’m beginning to worry about my mental health. I guess we’ll have to stay put.
- The details of Wayne Couzens’s method of entrapping, raping and murdering Sarah Everard and burning her body are beyond horrific, even to someone like me who’s lived a long time and observed years of violence against women and girls.
Which of us would not have succumbed to a police officer supposedly arresting us for some crime that we were not aware we had committed? What passer-by would not have thought a young woman being handcuffed and loaded into a car by a policeman was not perfectly legitimate?
No more. Never again will I trust a police officer unless she’s a woman. I doubt Couzens is the only policeman steeped in misogyny, and how many knew what he was capable of?
The police must be policed — and not by themselves.