I don't normally watch It Takes Two given that it's on when I'm either hoiking children round town to various activities or cooking their tea. But last night I wanted to see what John and Kristina had to say, so I left the dinner cooking and sat down (in between settling disputes between the ten/six year olds and filling in the husband on what had happened when he came in) to watch.
I really wanted to know what persuaded John to step down - my gut instinct says he's not the type to be bullied. It seemed clear to me from watching last night, that he had just got fed up with the media storm, which had taken the fun out of if for him.(Caused in no small part it has to be said by the likes of Arlene who was told Breakfast News on Monday that "When [other celebrities] put hours in the practice studio they are constantly working. They do not sit down, and I know with John, he sits and reads the Guardian. A lot of time he and his dance partner spend fooling around." , and was busy telling Jeremy Vine on Monday lunchtime John shouldn't still be in the competition.)
It strikes me that as well as being a perfect gent, John Sergeant is fundamentally also a very kind person, and it clearly bothered him that other people were getting stressed by the whole thing, and that he was uncomfortable to have got through on Saturday when Cherie didn't. I suspect that too, had something to do with his decision.
However, while I'm not sure about the whole bullying thing, I do agree with Marie, that facing a choice between people being rotten to you and going on a cruise, most of us would opt for the latter. And judging by the incredible bitchiness James (and to a lesser extent Anton and Kate Garroway) displayed when interviewed after him, I don't blame him. James was full of venom, spitting out malevolently that this "wasn't the John Sergeant show" - no, and I don't think for one moment John Sergeant thought it was either. Unlike James, he clearly has no ego to speak of, and was diplomatically getting out of the way so that other better dancers don't get voted off this week and he has to face the whole barrage of criticism again. I think sometimes the story gets too big for the person (I'm thinking here not just of the recent Brand/Ross nonsense, but also the whole Angus Deayton debacle a few years ago) - and John Sergeant recognising this decided to get out while the going was good. He's done so, as he's done everything in this show, with gravitas, dignity, and not inconsiderable wit. I love him more then ever (and can't wait to do the rewrites to my Christmas book so I can polish up my character into proper John Sergeant twinkly lines).
Everyone else (with exception of Claudia Winkelman who was flounderingly trying to get her interviewees to be more positive, and Brucie who just looked confused) who appeared on It Takes Two last night looked small minded, mean spirited and downright pathetic in comparison. For Arlene to say that she was "sad" he'd left and he should have stayed, and for Craig to call him a coward was breathtakingly hypocritical. I believed Len the most, even though he was pictured on Saturday moaning about the result.
And let's not forget that Len and Arlene the two oldest judges in the competition have been outrageously rude about John Sergeant's age. We all know it's a competition where the young and beautiful have more hope of winning. This time around John Sergeant gave all the dad dancers hope and Cherie Lunghi had been striking a blow for the older woman (ironic that my favourite older man was responsible for knocking my favourite older woman out), but to hear Len and Arlene go on about John's age you'd think he was practically senile. It's been nasty, obnoxious and makes the idea of having older competitors in this pointless. Why not just say next year, anyone under the age of 35 is banned? You'll have a bland show, but then you won't get to be embarrassed by watching geriatric shuffling either.
I'm not yet sure whether I want to carry on watching this year's SCD. Ironically I thought last week produced the best dancing yet, but I don't want to watch great dancing without seeing John Sergeant's cheeky little face cheering me up every week. I'd have accepted him going out in a vote and the judges getting rid of him in the dance off. But this is the worst of all possible worlds.
And the only one who's come out of it with any dignity is John Sergeant. I hope when he's back from his cruise, he'll also be back on our screens in some other amusing capacity soon.
The nation, deserves a bit of gaiety and it looks like we're not going to get it from SCD anymore.
OTOH, as Marie suggested maybe we should all go for Jodie For The Win. Get phoning peeps!