Strictly Come Dancing and racial prejudice | Letters

Tim Bale thinks more research is needed before deciding whether ethnicity affects a contestant’s chance of winning, Sue Boulding says some took against Alexandra Burke because they thought she had an unfair head start, while Alex More points to the expected success of Anthony Joshua in another public vote

I’m a huge Strictly fan and, although I was happy to see Joe McFadden win this year, I would have been equally happy to see the breathtakingly brilliant Alexandra Burke get her hands on the coveted glitterball trophy. I therefore read with interest your article (Strictly’s Burke the latest black contestant to fall foul of harsh reality TV, 16 December), which suggested your research had indicated that BAME (and particularly female BAME) contestants were far more likely to leave the show early.

This may well have been the case so far, but strictly speaking (if you’ll forgive the pun) the statistics don’t really allow us to say with any certainty yet that it was all down to their ethnicity or their sex. We’d have to have more contests – and therefore more contestants – to get truly convincing proof of that. We’d also have to control for all the other factors that might make a difference to a contestant’s success: for instance, athleticism, fame and, like this year’s winner, being a popular cast member in a long-running soap opera.
Tim Bale
Professor of politics, Queen Mary University of London

• It’s claimed that racial prejudice played a part in the public’s dislike of Strictly Come Dancing contestant Alexandra Burke. Prejudice may indeed play a part, but there is also a feeling that she had an unfair head start over other contestants, having been coached by one of the judges, Craig Revel Horwood, for her part in the stage show Sister Act. She is disliked by many for posing naked for an anti-fur campaign, then being seen wearing a fur coat. It shouldn’t be automatically assumed that racial prejudice is to blame – after all, the black contestant Ore Oduba won Strictly last year.
Sue Boulding
Stanwardine, Shropshire

• The British public won’t vote for a black TV show contestant, suggests your article on Strictly Come Dancing. But wait – what’s this underneath on the same page? The British public will vote for a black TV show contestant (Boxer Anthony Joshua favourite to win Sports Personality of the Year, 16 December). Constructive ambiguity?
Alex More

• Join the debate – email

• Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit


The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Strictly Come Dancing semi-final results – as it happened
The competition got serious with a two-dance semi-final, but which of the five remaining celebrities performed best under pressure, and who didn’t make the Grand Final?

Heidi Stephens

10, Dec, 2017 @7:59 PM

Article image
Alexandra Burke and the trouble with reality TV and race
As a brilliant dancer fails to win votes on Strictly week after week, an unsettling interpretation emerges: that racial anxieties are the problem

Hannah Ellis-Petersen

16, Dec, 2017 @1:35 PM

Article image
Strictly speaking, Tess Daly is doing just fine | Brief letters
Brief letters: White-haired women on TV | Strictly Come Dancing | Scottish spellings | French nouns


24, Aug, 2017 @5:22 PM

Article image
Rolling Stones’ Darryl Jones not just a spare part | Brief letters
Brief letters: Missing Rolling Stone | What makes a Wales | Sportswomen absent | Dodgy estate agents | Ed Balls’ Strictly exit | Trumpitechture


28, Nov, 2016 @6:22 PM

Article image
The better world of Strictly Come Dancing | Peter Preston
Peter Preston: BBC haters ought to have had this multinational dance series for breakfast. Instead they've feasted on it – every Saturday night

Peter Preston

18, Dec, 2011 @6:00 PM

Article image
Strictly Come Dancing 2013 contestants unveiled
Rugby star Ben Cohen and former Bond girl Fiona Fullerton are among contestants on BBC1 dance show

John Plunkett

02, Sep, 2013 @4:02 PM

Article image
TV review: Strictly Come Dancing

Russell Grant's star is in the ascendancy without him putting a foot right, writes Vicky Frost

Vicky Frost

01, Oct, 2011 @12:52 AM

Article image
Strictly Come Dancing Live – review

As Strictly Come Dancing Live is all relayed on to screens, you could almost ignore the live aspect and pretend you were watching the real thing: TV, writes Sanjoy Roy

Sanjoy Roy

16, Jan, 2011 @9:48 PM

Article image
Strictly Come Dancing 2012 lineup to include two Olympic medallists

Victoria Pendleton and Louis Smith among celebrities taking part in the BBC show alongside the likes of Jerry Hall and Sid Owen

Lisa O'Carroll

10, Sep, 2012 @6:30 PM

BBC offers refund to Strictly Come Dancing voters

Strictly Come Dancing voters will be offered refunds after the BBC received thousands of complaints over a decision to allow all three remaining couples into the final. By Damien Pearse

Damien Pearse

16, Dec, 2008 @12:01 AM