I’m an expert get me out of here

Posted by on Nov 15, 2008 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments


British TV – like the US – is awash with pro-celeb reality shows.

With all the behind-the-scenes gossip, the tantrums and the big wet tears they are addictive.

But it is the audience's participation (in deciding how goes or stays) which is causing a stir.

First, BBC's Strictly Come Dancing and then ITV's Xfactor have experienced the popular vote going directly against the "expert" advice.

Most tellingly, John Sergent [above] – 64 year old former political journo – is a "self-confessed non-dancer" but the public keep bringing him back. Which the expert panel of judges don't like at all: "this isn't Help the Aged, you know?" says one.

Seems the experts think these competitions are about who's the best at the particular skill, whereas the public seem to know the show (and thus the vote) are about something different and broader.

The Guardian quotes Fanofdancing on the BBC discussion boards who notes:


"This programme is called Strictly Come Dancing not
Strictly Entertainment. If it's a popularity
    contest then why bother to
have any dancing at all? People who think it's funny to vote for him
    spoiling the competition for those who are lovers of dance"

Clive Hurt, Ballroom dancing teacher says much the same:


"He is a good social dancer, but for him to go to the final would be
like a pensioner competing at
        the European athletics. It might be
rather enchanting, but it wouldn't be right."

Doesn't this have echoes in marketing and politics: if something gets to be popular it's likely to do so for other reasons than it's early afficionados – the experts -think.

The experts would probably say that the Public weren't being very wise – were not very good at distinguishing good from bad ballroom dancers – but I think having seen JS at work, I think they're just playing a different game all together…

Doesn't this have echoes in all kinds of places: experts think it's their game; the crowd knows otherwise but we in marketing and management always go looking for experts…


  1. ArkAngel
    November 17, 2008

    The crowd often takes enormous pleasure in undermining not just the experts but the Big Media behind such shows. They delight in saying (through their voting) take this big fat singer with the XXXL factor and market that! They like exercising a degree of sadism in all sorts of ways – send John Fashanu back to that trial because we want to push his phobia to its limits. The herd is (often) not that nice.

  2. kate
    November 18, 2008

    They also love the underdog. The pale looking mobile phone salesman who lives with his mother. The greying political journo who can't dance to save his life. The "ordinary" heroes.

  3. hugh macleod
    November 19, 2008

    The thing about being an expert, is that once you become one, one's MO immediately becomes about retaining the privileges that come with expert status, and everything else immediately becomes secondary. As two people with MEDIAAAAAAA backgrounds, we know this to be true, more than we'd probably care to admit…