There are few pairings stranger than that of political journalism and ballroom dancing.
But as former political correspondent John Sergeant battled the judges of “Strictly Come Dancing,” the BBC’s version of “Dancing With the Stars,” the U.K. media and public have been obsessed.
Sergeant, clearly more suited to going nose to nose with Margaret Thatcher than Russian Latin dance expert Kristina Rihanoff, was derided by judges week after week for his lack of dancing skills and his evident lack of interest in acquiring them.
But the more they insulted him, calling him “a pig in Cuban heels” among other things, the more the aud took him to its bosom and overturned judges’ decisions.
Finally even Sergeant tired of the joke, noting, “The trouble is that there is now a real danger that I might win the competition. Even for me that would be a joke too far.”
But as soon as he quit the show, Blighty’s most hardened political journalists scented a conspiracy, suspecting the BBC had bribed or leaned on Sergeant.
BBC News attack dog Jeremy Paxman, attending the press conference where Sergeant sought to defuse the fuss, barked “Are you a man or a mouse?”