2021 – The Year I caught Strictly Fever

Dear Science. Whilst your busy cooking up covid jabs and working out the answer to life, the universe and everything, could you also please find a way to bottle Rose Ayling-Ellis?  Could you perhaps distil her magical, mysterious and mesmerising essence and then prescribe it on the NHS, so we can all get a free spoonful of Rose every day.

The world would be a better place I can tell you, with us all mainlining our daily Rose fix. We’d be walking – no we wouldn’t, we’d be dancing on air. We’d never complain. We’d beam with unbridled Joy (not going over the top am I dear blog?  Surely not)

What is it about Rose?  Because people like Rose don’t come along that often, especially on mainstream TV.  It’s not even enough to say that she’s genuine, unique, beautiful, funny, clever, remarkably likable. That she stole a cool dreamboat of a pro dancer’s heart. That a kind of love story played out right before our eyes on a weekly basis. Gaining in momentum. Gaining in trust. Looking like it was something from a fairy tale. Looking like it was something Epic.

No, there was an indescribable something more and that secret ingredient is possibly because Rose is deaf. Rose’s disability was in fact her greatest strength. There’s a curiously childlike quality about Rose.  The way she stared so intently at her interpreters – wide-eyed, filled with a sort of innocence. In just the way a child will stare into your soul, eyes never blinking, in total openness, total vulnerability.  Rose’s disability means she has to pay attention, really pay attention; to your face, to your eyes, to your mouth, in a way so few of us do going about our daily lives. She had to connect to her partner in a deeper, closer, more vulnerable and utterly dependent way. No wonder super cool Giovanni Pernice fell head over his dancing heels in love.

I haven’t watched Strictly in years. I mean properly watched it, all the way through. I gave this series a glance round about week 3 and there were Rose and Giovanni shining with star quality. Brimming over with jiving joy. Somehow taking us back to young love. Waltzing us away from Covid misery.  Rose and Giovanni – a dancing chemistry that can’t be explained. That can’t be manufactured. That won’t be replicated.  That just is (or was.) And I thought, they’ll win. But I thought it in an emotional, visceral way.  That’s the weirdly strange R&G effect for you.

Below is my recording of The Rose, the song chosen for R&G in their show dance. Strictly knew exactly what they were doing when it came to song choices for R&G.  I’m old enough to remember The Rose back in 1979. It was the song that supposedly showed a different ‘side’ to Bette Middler. The serious songstress side.

Unfortunately, I still can’t record tracks directly to my laptop so held an iPad up to the monitor to record from that – really not the way to do it. This also affected the vocal recordings for some reason. The result is amateurish to say the least but who cares?  This recording is just to remind me that there was once a reality entertainment show that went beyond the artifice, the glamour, the ‘fake,’ and somehow produced something REAL.

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