True beginners are a rare sight, if at all, on Strictly now

Maybe you don’t need reminding – maybe you don’t care – but the Strictly Come Dancing Final is here at last.

Yes, after hours and hours and hours of training, beating fellow contenders and probably losing at least a stone in weight, the winner will be announced just before 9pm tonight.

And, unless there’s a miraculous turnaround in viewer affections, Ashley Roberts – undeniably the best dancer since the very first show of this series – will not be lifting the winner’s glitter ball at the end of the programme.

From the get go, from the first twirl in the ballroom and Ashley’s debut dance, it was clear this perky young lady was already an accomplished dancer.

She learned modern dance at university and utilised her skills alongside Nicole Scherzinger et al as a member of the Pussycat Dolls.

Is this a viewer protest against already-trained dancers taking part in a contest that’s supposed to feature classic fairytale journeys from ugly duckling dancers to elegant, gliding swans?

Maybe, but from the beginning there have always been actors and performers on the show, celebrities who’ve clearly had dance training in order to qualify for their chosen careers.

When Strictly first hit our screens back in 2004, though, it was largely formed of complete dance novices, who were truly learning step-by-step as they went along.

People who didn’t even dance at weddings (like myself in series three) competed alongside other hapless folk, as well as sportsmen and women and the occasional actor/performer.

Then there were Anne Widdecombe and Ed Balls…

But true beginners are a rare sight, if at all, on Strictly now. It’s ramped up the competition, but sort of lost some of its fun because of that.

Stacey Dooley and Lauren Steadman have won hearts this time around because they’re novices, they’re likeable, they’ve grafted and improved – hugely in Stacey’s case.

Ashley was polished from day one. Is that the problem, or in the midst of this nasty post-Brexit fallout, is it her heritage that irks?

Is it a case of ‘she’s not British, she’s not winning Britain’s favourite Saturday night TV show?’

Shudder, shudder. I hope not, but nothing would surprise me amidst the enhanced air of racist nastiness that’s evolved in the wake of Brexit.

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