The Stage


TV review

Published Friday 28 December 2007 at 15:25 by Harry Venning

All hail Alesha, freshly crowned queen of Strictly Come Dancing after defeating Matt in a thrilling finale. Even now I find it hard to believe the word ‘thrilling’ can be used in the same sentence as ballroom dancing, but it’s true. This was edge-of-the seat entertainment, with the judges competing to outdo each other in the hyperbole stakes, and Bruce Forsyth twinkling charmingly throughout, albeit half a second behind the pace.

As living proof of Strictly Come Dancing’s across the board appeal, Jeremy Paxman could be plainly seen amongst the audience, a knowing half-smile playing on his lips. Not wishing to taint proceedings with even a hint of cynicism, Brucie ignored Paxman in favour of an interview with David Walliams and his mum. We also met Matt’s ultra supportive brothers who, upon hearing the result in Alesha’s favour, looked as if they were about to punch a hole in the nearest wall. If the competition gets taken any more seriously, it can only be a matter of time before the rival fans are segregated and policed by stewards.

Doctor Who quite literally pushed the boat out for its Christmas special Voyage of the Damned, setting its extra-terrestrial shenanigans on board a spaceship replica of the Titanic. Cruising around planet Earth, attended to by robotic golden angels, all seemed reassuringly ship-shape for the exclusive clientele on board, until the Doctor helpfully pointed out the three asteroids heading their way.

As if space weren’t stellar enough, Kylie guested as waitress Astrid, enchanting Doctor Who so comprehensively that he offered her the vacant job as his “assistant” without even so much as an interview or references. Sadly, Astrid fell to her death down a flaming engine shaft before she could take up the post, a tragedy Doctor Who proved remarkably sanguine about. And he’s supposed to have two hearts.

Voyage of the Damned was well up to Doctor Who’s impeccably high standards, neatly combining comedy and thrills to stunning effect. David Tennant has really has made the Doctor his own, banishing all memories of Christopher Eccleston’s dreadful residency in the process, and it will be a brave actor who agrees to take over the role from him.

Ballet Shoes was utter rubbish, but I’m informed that you have to be a little girl to fully appreciate its tale of three orphan sisters in the thirties reaching for the sky as an actress, a dancer and, most appropriately, an aviator.

Emma Watson, of Harry Potter fame, pouted precociously through it all as spoilt actress Pauline - as if such a thing exists - who learns her lesson, and makes the ultimate sacrifice of signing a Hollywood contract to pay for sister Petrova’s ballet training in Moscow.

Christmas at the Riviera was a multi-stranded farce concerning the misadventures of guests and staff at a shabbily genteel Eastbourne hotel.

The jokes were broad and the set pieces obvious, but by the end of its two hours, I found myself feeling sentimentally fond of the characters. This I attribute to a mix of good writing, great acting, Christmas spirit and the bottle of sherry I drank while watching it.


Strictly Come Dancing Final - BBC1, Saturday, December 22, 5.50pm

Doctor Who - BBC1, Tuesday, December 25, 6.50pm

Ballet Shoes - BBC1, Wednesday, December 26, 8.30pm

Christmas at the Riviera - ITV1, Monday, December 24, 9pm


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