If there’s one thing that gets our three kids bickering on a Saturday night, it’s whose turn it is to sit out a dance.
It was this week last year – the week before Halloween – that the three of them watched their first episode of Strictly Come Dancing. They’ve been hooked ever since.
All of them watch the show religiously. They love the theatre of watching the judges’ comments and scores but most of all they’re captivated by the dances. In every combination of pairing – Isaac and Kara, Toby and Kara, even Isaac and Toby – they watch all the routines and then imitate them, twirling around our living room as if it was the Blackpool Tower ballroom itself.
Each has their own individual characteristics. Isaac has a certain easy, old-fashioned grace to his movements. Toby likes to introduce body-popping elements in to his choreography. And Kara is all twirls, jumps and lifts. They’re all rather good in their own way – certainly much so than their father, who has the proverbial two left feet.
When Strictly comes on none of them wants to be the one without a partner, especially if it’s the turn of one of their favourites. (Strangely, none of them ever seems to be in a rush to dance along to Ed Balls.) And convincing them that it’s bedtime before the show has finished would make a ‘hard Brexit’ negotiation look like child’s play.
But on the whole, Saturday evenings consist of the entire family camping in front of the TV and enjoying one of those rare programmes that all five of us can genuinely enjoy together. (The only others currently achieving that elevated status are Bake Off and Thunderbirds Are Go.) Even if at times the battles to determine whose turn it is and isn’t are scarily reminiscent of Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s video for her 2001 hit Murder on the Dancefloor.