Strictly Come Dancing

I’m going to assume that you don’t need an explanation of what Strictly Come Dancing is. If you hail from the United States of America, you’ll probably know the format through ‘Dancing With The Stars’. If you’re Estonian you’ll know it as ‘Kuulsused Teeme Tantsu Asi On Väga Hea’.

What’s my problem with Strictly Come Dancing? It’s not Brucie (I like Sir Bruce and his jolly catchphrases). You don’t get anything for a pair, not in this game – or “sa ei saa midagi siduda, mitte selles mängus” as they say in Estonia. It’s not the fact that it’s all so very, very nice and wholesome entertainment. It’s not that I don’t like ballroom dancing. Well, actually I don’t like ballroom dancing, but that’s not my complaint. So what’s the problem?

The title ‘Strictly Come Dancing’, I assume, comes from an amalgamation of the ancient television show ‘Come Dancing’ (the source of a popular playground joke) and the movie ‘Strictly Ballroom’. Clever, eh? Indeed. The title of this television show is ‘Strictly Come Dancing’. The problem is…

People refer to it as ‘Strictly’. And that’s just stupid.

Imagine you have an Estonian exchange student staying with you (let’s say his name is Nigul, which is probably the Estonian equivalent of Nigel). And you say to Nigul “we’ll have some dinner, watch the t.v., and then go to the pub”. Nigul will ask what’s on t.v. and you reply “Strictly”. Nigul goes to his room and finds an Estonian / English dictionary in his rucksack (which he bought when he visited Tallinn with his Uncle Olev) and looks up ‘strictly’. He finds that it’s an adjective meaning ‘adhering closely to specified rules’, which he translates as ‘küljes tihedalt teatud reeglid’. With this in mind Nigul sits down to watch the show and sees a load of people dancing in brightly-coloured outfits followed by four people holding up numbers on large table-tennis bats. What the hell is the connection between this tepid, slightly irritating, light entertainment and an adjective meaning ‘adhering closely to specified rules’? He is now extremely confused, and his confidence in grasping the English language has now taken a big knock. And that’s all because you call it ‘Strictly’.

By the way, Estonia’s equivalent of Strictly Come Dancing never took off in a big way due to the fact they only have six celebrities in Estonia – one of them was the host of the show and another two were on the judging panel.


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