Ball of confusion

Sunday, December 14, 2008 by

Simon Cowell didn’t get all the column inches he was expecting this morning.

Roll out the big font for a last minute announcement

Roll out the big font for a last minute announcement

With TheĀ X Factor reaching its conclusion, the penultimate Strictly Come Dancing was rather less exciting, especially as I’m not really interested in any of the remaining contestants. Yet it managed to come up with the most bizarre piece of television this year (apart from when Brucie opened last week’s show by asking of the contestants, “Are they human, or are they dancers?”). That’s because after the phone lines were opened, it was spotted that there was a big problem.

After the judges’ scores, Lisa Snowdon and Rachel Stevens tied for first place, so got three points each, while Tom Chambers came second and got one point. This meant that it was impossible for Tom to avoid the dance-off, as no matter how many votes he got from the public, he’d still only end up with four points and would always be beaten by at least one of the other contestants. Hence it was a waste of time and money voting for him.

This all meant that 10 minutes before the scheduled end of the show, all gathered on the stage to learn that there would be no dance-off and all three would go through, and the show ended. Brilliantly, this meant that BBC1 had to fill ten minutes of prime time television with nothing but a stack of trailers, including some shown twice. Of course, the fact nobody had a clue what was going on was absolutely brilliant, the schedule just fell apart due to a complete cock-up.

However – and the comments box is there if I’m wrong – I think that even if it wasn’t a tie, Tom would always have been in the dance-off. The most he could have got was four points (one from the judges, three from the public). If Lisa came second and got the lowest number of votes, she’d have got three points (two from the judges, one for the public) but in this instance, Rachel would have had to have got five points (three from the judges, two from the public) and Tom would still have been in the dance-off. If the first-placed contestant had the lowest number of votes, however, it would have meant all the contestants tying with four points. There was no way Tom could have finished top of the leader board.

Clearly, with the low number of points floating around, there was always the chance there could have been such a deadlock. It would have made more sense to use the public votes alone in such a situation. Of course, in these days of transparency of television, it was probably the right decision to abandon the elimination, but it could have been avoided.

It’s great to see, though, that however slick and expensive telly gets, it can still go very wrong. Still, Brucie was having a whale of a time, and you’ve got to love a show where the presenter can read out the time next week’s show is on, and shout “Ooh, that’s a better time, isn’t it?”


9 Responses to “Ball of confusion”

  1. Andrew on December 14th, 2008 5:38 pm

    I *think* the rule is that in the event of a tie, the public vote takes priority, so if they’d all ended up tied on 4 points, the one voted last by the judges would not be in the dance-off.

  2. Jennifer Turner on December 14th, 2008 6:09 pm

    Andrew is right. The tie-break rule has been mentioned on the show in the past, albeit not recently.

  3. Graham Kibble-White on December 15th, 2008 8:54 am

    Now I understand exactly why they had to nix the phone votes, I don’t have a problem. But the situation was so badly explained on the night, at the time it looked like they were simply conspiring to ensure there were three couples in the final. And that was really annoying. Sitting through 90 minutes of telly for a huge cop-out at the end.

    It does seem odd this situation hasn’t come up before. Or maybe it has, but they were never so paranoid as to address it.

  4. Jonathan Haw on December 16th, 2008 4:16 pm

    They should have just got Brucie to fill for the last 10 minutes with a song & dance routine and a few showbiz anecdotes. It would have been the best thing on telly for years….

  5. Applemask on December 16th, 2008 4:54 pm

    How long before the licence fee is scrapped and Mark Thompson forced to resign over this?

  6. Jack Kibble-White on December 17th, 2008 1:39 pm

    Of course all of this stems back to the John Sergeant incident, as if he’d not left there would have been four contestants in the semi-finals. So all in all, a good business lesson there about how an unexpected problem can have unforeseen impacts further down the line.

  7. MartS on December 19th, 2008 7:48 am

    Jack, not quite.
    Last series also have three dancers in the final show, as Kelly Brook pulled out very near the quarter finals due to a family bereavement. I think that week, there was no elimination phone vote.

    Apart from last Sunday which was the first day since early October the show’s theme hasn’t been heard on either BBC One or Two, I’ve really enjoyed it.
    Still not sure about Sir Brucie and his abillity to read autocue these days, Tess is still rubbish at ad-libbing to fill time, and I hate Claudia’s announcing of the guests on It Takes Two in a pitch so high my dog covers her ears in pain, but all in all (bar last Saturday 9.10 – 9.30pm) it’s been a tight, slick, well produced BBC show.

    By the way – was Masterchef’s ‘food and ingredients expert’ Greg Wallace this years male emergency stand-by contestant? I’ve seen him in the guest seats a lot this series, but can’t connect him friendshipwise to any of the dancer celbs – bar Gary Rhodes.

  8. Jack Kibble-White on December 19th, 2008 4:31 pm

    Thanks for the clarification MartS – I think my general point still stands – it’s all John Sergeant’s fault!

  9. Stephen Smith on December 22nd, 2008 9:49 am

    (First time posting here…)

    MartS – sorry to correct your correction, but there was a phone vote the week Kelly Brook went out last year – Kenny Logan was voted out (a bit like John Sergeant, he seemed to go way beyond his dancing skills). Which meant there were only 2 in last year’s final – Alesha Dixon and Matt Di Angelo. In fact, after Sergeant’s withdrawal from the contest, this was on course to be the third season in a row in which there’d only been 2 in the final, until the semi-final mix-up took it back to 3, which actually made it a bit better (and meant we got to see Tom’s fantastic showdance).

    Thanks to Wikipedia ( for the names of the finalists!!