Arlene bites the dust

The BBC may well say that getting rid of Arlene from Strictly Come Dancing is nothing to do with her age – but I don’t believe them. To have one of the world’s most successful and knowledgeable choreographers judging the dancers has been a strength of the program – giving a real basis to those judgements. With an eye over their shoulder to competing with the X-Factor, the Beeb seems to think the magic formula of ‘refreshment’ is the answer – refreshment meaning bringing in a young, pretty female with less qualification for the job.

People will watch Strictly because they love it – and Arlene is part of the reason they love it. They’ll watch it with Alesha too – but it will have lost the very special reason it wasn’t just like other other programs – the very fact that it has flown in the face of age discrimination up until now with an older head judge and a very, very old presenter. Why not replace Len? Or Brucie? Oh – they’re older men – it’s only women who aren’t allowed to get old in pubic. So it’s not just age – it’s age and gender! Shame on you BBC!

Perhaps this should be a case for the Equality and Human Rights Commission? Organisations that spend public money have to be subject to the Equality Duty. The BBC were very keen that the new Equality Bill should not interfere with their rights in terms of program content – and we politicians leading on the Bill believed they meant that the law should have nothing to do with how many women, ethnic minorities, disabled people and so on should appear in their dramas and soaps etc. Clearly that would have been a nonsense. However, in view of this latest display of age and gender discrimination – perhaps we will have to reconsider this exemption.

And as the Equality Bill is not yet through its legislative processes – I will be considering bringing an amendment to the Bill which looks at the BBC’s exemption again. They clearly can’t be trusted.

0 thoughts on “Arlene bites the dust

  1. For once, Lynne, I disagree. The BBC has made such a mess of Strictly in recent years. Getting rid of Arlene is part of an attempt to bring in a younger audience – and that's where the age discrimination lies. They say that the average age of the audience is 52 – wow, can't have that!

  2. Why would anybody trust the BBC?The exemption was never about trust. It is something much simpler and more fundamental: attempting to legislate media content has never worked and always led to Bad Things. You simply cannot reshape culture by force – it doesn't work that way.You don't have the power to fix this one, and trying to do it will create a horrible mess.What can you do? Well, you can start by not assuming that whenever somebody does something, it's because of the age of the people involved. I'm very disappointed by how quick people have been to condemn on the basis of absolutely no evidence at all. I rather suspect they're just looking for an excuse to blame somebody for a change they don't like. (What if she requested the move herself? Do you even know that she didn't?)

  3. I wonder if there would be such a fuss had it been a man who lost his job. I don't watch the show so I can't really comment on actual case itself. However, even I can see that this is just one person we're talking about so for Parliament to be discussing one person on some trivial, poor quality reality tv shows really is a bit silly.A much more significant story worth blogging about would surely be the revelations about discrimination on the honors list, with some areas having 55% quotas introduced for women. Yes not even 50% but an extra 5% on top!