Most of our free and fearless press hates the BBC with a passion. But, as usual, there is always the need to pursue sales and clicks, together with the ability to shamelessly play both sides of the field. So when the Beeb has a ratings success, there are the tabloids, and even sometimes the alleged quality titles, scoring copy off the back of it. And there is no more consistent BBC ratings winner than Strictly Come Dancing.
The show survived the departure of Bruce Forsyth, and has gone from strength to strength, all the while bringing the audience what used to be called Good Old Fashioned Family Entertainment. For the tabloid press, this means they get more of those sales and clicks by talking about the show and its stars. It also gives the less principled hacks the opportunity to invent stories in order to claim exclusives.
All of which brings us to the current series of Strictly, and the antics of the Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun who write the Bizarre column, for which Dan Wootton takes the credit. They have decided that contestant Alexandra Burke is not only some kind of “diva”, but fair game for invented stories. Out came the alleged exclusives.
Monday morning brought “Strictly Come Dancing star Alexandra Burke had backstage meltdown over ending up in bottom two … The former X Factor star, 29, was seen 'inconsolably sobbing and shaking' after competing against EastEnders actor Davood Ghadami, 35, for a place in the semi-final”. And the source of this dubious hokum? “A show source said”. Someone at the Sun office who once visited the set, perhaps.
It's bizarre how anyone believes the SOB
The allegations clearly got to Ms Burke, who then sent Wootton this statement: “Dan, every time we have met you’ve been lovely. I’m finding it very hard to read all the lies you have published about me. I’ve tried my best to just be strong and brush it all off but mentally it’s taking its toll. It hurst too much to read yet another fake story when all I want to do is enjoy this journey on Strictly”. She might as well not have bothered.
After all, the last thing you should admit to the SOBs is that they are getting to you, because that means they will just dish out more of it. You think I jest? Sure enough, almost as soon as she’d made that comment, they were on Ms Burke’s case again. “ALEXANDRA BURKE has spent the whole of the Strictly series denying she’s a diva with a quick temper … But the singer had a big bust-up with her dance partner” claimed the Bizarre column.
The source for this claim, once more claimed by Dan Wootton? “An onlooker said”. Which can, as any fule kno, include anyone at the Sun offices who occasionally watches the TV. And just to rub it in, readers were told “It’s perhaps as well that they won … Filming for the dance-off also had to be delayed as Alexandra was unable to control her tears”. They got away with that one on Monday, so recycled it for good measure.
And there is little point Ms Burke complaining to Wootton - he just gets the credit. As Private Eye magazine has pointed out recently, most of the Bizarre column’s content is written by the humble droids who get paid very little - just to make up stuff like this.
Welcome to the world of tabloid bullying for profit, Ms Burke. You ain’t seen nothing yet.