No stars to twinkle on dance floor

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A deep fug envelops your loyal correspondent – and it has nothing to do with readings from the bathroom scales or news of the imminent arrival of the mother-in-law.

I know, either would normally come as a terrible blow but not this time. Not in comparison with recent events.
Yes, you know what I’m talking about: the demise of the culturally-significant Dancing With The Stars.

As John Cleese would say, it’s now an ex-reality show – it’s kicked the bucket, shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible. New Zealanders everywhere will be in mourning. How will we cope without it? God only knows.

Lorraine Downes has already spoken of her anguish and sorrow, saying DWTS was one of the few TV shows a family could sit down and watch together. Suzanne Paul says it was akin to hearing about a fatality. She was with 15 other women when she received the news and “it was like someone had died”.

Most of us will empathise with this, I’m sure.

Professional dancer Stefano Olivieri, who stunned viewers last season when he spoke to presenter Jason Gunn about “coming in his pants”, was apparently inconsolable when told. Candy Lane refused to answer her phone for days, such was her dismay.

TVNZ has suggested the reason for canning the show was simply financial. However, Remote has made some inquiries and can reveal that while funds were indeed scarce, finding genuine celebrities might have been a bigger concern.

Even the try-hards were playing hard to get. Word is that Rodney Hide refused to accept a recall unless he could bring along his girlfriend, all expenses paid. Hone Harawira apparently was interested, but only on the understanding he could skip the first couple of episodes – apparently so he could visit some relatives and shop at Sylvia Park Mall.

Wanganui mayor Michael Laws was ruled out after declaring he’d only compete in an “H”-free environment, while Brian Tamaki was overlooked following demands for a cut of the phone-in profits, a whip-round during commercial breaks and a pledge of loyalty and subservience from the judges.

Paul Henry was still too depressed from missing out on the Qantas best presenter award, Bill English was otherwise engaged – from all accounts preparing his Dipton residence for sale, now it’s not required for appearances’ sake – and Sensing Murder fortune-teller Deb Webber also declined after foreseeing an undesirable outcome.

Faced with such an exodus, and despite overtures from Martin Devlin and Christine Rankin to “fill in while the others were away”, TVNZ bean-counters probably felt they had no other choice.

And when you consider that one of the big ideas for the next series was to include David Bain as a contestant, you can perhaps see where they were coming from.

For all that, the news has indeed come as a harrowing blow. What we’ll all do now is anyone’s guess.