Over the last two weekends, as usual at this time of year, three TV shows have concluded with public votes (by phone, text and online) to determine the winning contestants: “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here”, “Strictly Come Dancing” and “Sports Personality of the Year”. For the fourth year running, ITV’s “The X Factor” was not part of the autumn and winter schedule. It dominated viewing figures and the Christmas charts for most of this century but looks unlikely to return to our screens anytime soon.
As a family we kept an eye on “I’m a Celebrity …” most evenings, right up to the final last Sunday. The children, now 15 and 17, are old enough to stay up until 10pm or later to witness public figures eating bugs and animal genitalia in the name of entertainment. When the voting began, to eliminate contestants, the first three to leave the castle were all women. The show’s top-placed woman was Frankie Bridge, who finished third. The winner was Danny Miller, an actor best known for playing Aaron Dingle in “Emmerdale”.
Last night, like every Saturday since September, our family viewing centred around “Strictly Come Dancing”. The show’s finale featured just two couples. If things had gone to plan there would have been four pairs, but Robert Webb’s early withdrawal meant that they would be one short. The same happened in 2016 when Will Young left the show early. In both cases we felt, strongly, that the weekly elimination should have been postponed to make up for the unplanned loss of a contestant. This year AJ Odudo also reached the final but was injured in the days leading up to it, leaving Rose Ayling-Ellis and John Whaite as the only competitors. We would have been happy whoever won the trophy but I cast all of my online votes for Rose. She won, just as the bookies predicted (10/1 on when I last checked), the first woman to do so since Stacy Dooley in 2018 and the eighth overall, compared to 11 male winners.
Last night we missed the first half-hour or so of “Sports Personality of the Year” (SPOTY) but watched the last 100 minutes uninterrupted. Often, during the last 30 years, this show has been on in the background while I decorate our Christmas tree but this year the children had finished that job by mid-afternoon. Once again we were happy with most of the contenders but I cast my online vote for tennis player Emma Raducanu, ahead of Olympic gold medallists Tom Daley and Adam Peaty. (The latter was also a contestant on “Strictly” this year, but didn’t get anywhere near the final.) Raducanu became the first woman to win SPOTY since Zara Philips in 2006, and this meant that I had voted for winning competitors two nights running. I don’t believe that this has ever happened before.