Ian Monk: Dancing is strictly for older women

What a delicious set of ageist messages the BBC is sending out as it unveils its silver waltzers for the latest series of Strictly Come Dancing.

Ian Monk: Dancing is strictly for older women
Ian Monk: Dancing is strictly for older women

Commenting on a line-up of female sixty-somethings, including Lulu and Anita Dobson, both 62, and 65- year old Edwina Currie, a spokesman said archly: 'We are getting more and more women of a certain age. I don't think is a conscious decision ...' Not much it isn't.

Throw into the mix Nancy Dell'Olio, whose uncertain age is somewhere in the region of 50, and you have a quartet of female prime-time entertainers with an average age of 60. Which is, of course, in stark contrast to Auntie's policies on those deemed young enough to front news and current affairs programmes.

Eat your hearts out, Moira, Selina and Anna. You may be too old to sit down authoritatively in front of an autocue, but who knows, in a few years you might get the call to do a twirl on Strictly.

That high priestess of most 'isms', Harriet Harman - who lambasted the BBC last year for its ageist and sexist treatment of older women - could even get the call-up to dance. It didn't do Ann Widdecombe any harm.

There's no doubt that Strictly's latest troupe all look fabulous. For publicists whose clients include upmarket fashion and lifestyle brands, their on-screen presence will be a boon.

Equally predictable is the explosion of coverage around plastic surgery and botox clinics. Whether or not they or anyone has ever laid a finger or a treatment on any of the Strictly girls, claims will be made anyway.

How delightfully ironic too that Strictly unveiled its mature line-up in the week grinning Tory MP David Amess accused Breakfast news presenters of 'smirking' through serious stories - because of their botox treatments. Interestingly, all of those who responded with denials were in their forties - probably because there aren't any such female presenters over 50.

Somehow, through all the contortions of ageism and sexism, men still seem to get the last laugh. Especially Strictly's star presenter Sir Bruce Forsyth - aged 83.

Ian Monk is founder of Ian Monk Associates and a former executive at the Daily Mail and The Sun.

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