If bosses are fed up with Strictly spoilers, there's only one solution

About 10 years ago, I felt so clever when I figured out how to get the Strictly Come Dancing results spoiler.

Late on a Saturday night, I’d visit a betting website and see which contestant had suddenly disappeared from the bookies’ markets. I felt so smug.

Obviously, I wasn’t nearly as smart as I thought I was – many other people had the same idea (my dad included), and the spoiler was readily available in forums and in quiet corners of social media for anyone who wanted to find it.

Nowadays, bookies tend to suspend their markets altogether before the results show airs. But spoilers still run rampant, and many fans – myself guiltily included – can’t help themselves.

For every series since 2007 (with the exception of 2009), contestants have danced their hearts out in a live Saturday broadcast, before the public vote opens and the credits roll. 

Once that vote closes later the same night, the elimination programme is pre-recorded, and aired at teatime on Sunday.

The advantages are plentiful: mistakes can be re-shot, rambling judges can be edited down, and – crucially – the Dance-Off performances can be presented in quick succession, without having to wait for the sets to be changed-over.

But the big con? The result always, always leaks before broadcast.

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Everyone involved – from crew to on-screen talent to studio audience – is sworn to secrecy, but by midnight the identity of the eliminated couple is quite easily discoverable to anyone with a bit of 3G.

One popular X (formerly Twitter) account, run by viewer Dave Thorp, is a big go-to for results-hungry viewers; and has almost 66,000 followers. Another, named simply ‘Strictly Spoiler’, has over 50,000; and several others pop up every year (shout-out to anyone who, like me, enjoys the way they are all making passive-aggressive digs at each-other throughout the series).

You can see why those involved with the show are growing more and more frustrated.

Judge Anton Du Beke told Metro.co.uk this month: ‘I get irritated. I hate anybody who’s a spoiler.

‘Don’t search for it, but don’t put it on there. Whoever you are, Mr Spoiler – why are you doing that? What are you gaining out of that? What’s the purpose of that? It’s just pathetic. That’s how I feel about it. I get grumpy about it.’

Bosses are allegedly so annoyed that measures are now being implemented. An unnamed source told MailOnline a couple of weeks ago: ‘So now procedures are being put in place to see if the mole can be caught though it’s tricky because there are so many people involved with Strictly but the bosses are determined to nail he or she.’

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I know I shouldn’t look. I know! I know I should sit back, tune in on Sunday and enjoy the ride. But I just can’t help myself! If I know it’s out there, I’ll read it.

I don’t know why: I know full-well that rumoured spoilers for other shows, like Drag Race, can sometimes be found on sites like Reddit; and when watching the likes of The Traitors Australia – which aired Down Under a year ago – I knew I could just go on Wikipedia at any point and see how it all panned out.

With all those other shows, though, I resist. So why is Strictly so tempting? It’s probably because unlike other similar shows, it wasn’t filmed months ago; it’s a kind of excitement that’s happening right now.

Can these spoilers be stopped? If you ask me, bosses can put in place all the ‘measures’ they want – they can’t stop Jimbob and Gladys in the audience from pinging Dave Thorp a line the second they get their phones back.

The only real solution? To simply stop pre-recording the results shows altogether.

If a Sunday night live broadcast is too expensive and logistically tricky, perhaps we need to just get the results live on the Saturday – either in a later results show, or in one, elongated main programme.

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The former is certainly how it used to be back in the day – and in 2009, the Beeb tried the latter, too; airing the results in the same show as the main dances (like they currently do with the live final in December).

The obvious drawback with that is the running time: tomorrow’s performance show is already slated to run at around two hours and 20 minutes. Add in time for voting, time for vote-counting, and time for a Dance-Off; and you’re probably clocking in at a bum-numbing three-and-a-half.

Maybe the way around that is to split the field into two alternating groups in the earlier stages of the contest; or maybe it’s to ditch the Dance-Off altogether and instantly eliminate whoever’s last on the combined leader-board (that, for what it’s worth, is how it works on Dancing With The Stars).

Whatever the workaround, Strictly spoilers can only be vanquished for good at this point if the pre-recorded element is jettisoned altogether.

But hey, maybe they don’t need to be vanquished. Maybe the spoilers actually aren’t that big of a deal. I personally still watch the results even if I do know the outcome in advance.

And the ratings are still enormous – sure, they’re not quite as high as Saturdays’, but according to audience measurement organisation BARB, last year only one Sunday episode logged fewer than 8million viewers. So are the spoilers even doing that much harm?

What matters is that people who don’t want the advanced info aren’t exposed to them by accident.

Thorp has said in his own defence that he avoids putting spoiler specifics in tweets/posts, instead directing readers to his website to read the info – the upshot being that even if people retweet/repost, they won’t see the actual spoiler unless they purposely click through.

Other accounts, however, put the spoiler specifics in their tweets/posts – so once those posts are shared by followers, it’s easy for folks who want to remain spoiler-free to see them by accident. That feels unfair.

That issue aside, however, are they really doing that much damage? If not, maybe bosses just need to learn to live with them.

And if so, maybe the only solution is to ditch the pre-record itself. That way, there’ll be nothing to ruin.

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