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5 'great' TV dancing moments

20 August 2019 ( 01 March 2021 )

Strictly Come Dancing might be one of the most popular TV shows in the country, but the small screen hasn't always set the bar at such a high level. We look at some of the most memorable dancing moments in TV history.

Scottish dancers
The Scottish country dancers were some of the key performers on the The White Heather Club variety show

The White Heather Club - country dancers

It’s amazing that the English weren’t demanding Scottish independence in the 60s, on the grounds that they’d no longer have the White Heather Club foisted on them. All roamin’, gloamin’ and Scottish soldiery, the kilts flapped limply in the studio as they reeled around the studio to Jimmy Shand and his band.

For those who remember doing country dancing for PE in the 50s and 60s, look away as this may rekindle traumatic memories.

Top of the Pops - Legs & Co

It didn’t matter what the music was, soul, Tamla, rock, reggae, punk, whatever the genre, whatever the year, the TOTP audience demonstrated one unchallengeable fact – the British can’t dance.

It was left to the Go Gos (TOTP’s first dancers), Pan’s People, Legs and Co etc, to inject some semblance of terpsichorean order. They were safe in the knowledge that however laughable their routine, there was no danger of being upstaged by the audience, who grudgingly moved, if at all, only when in danger of being hit by a camera.

In the early 70s, Tony Blackburn tried to distract the viewers from his terrible choice of knitwear by hosting a ‘best dancer’ competition. ‘Least worst’ would have been more apt.

Monty Python - Fish Slapping Dance

If you want the essence of Monthy Python in a 16-second nutshell, according to Michael Palin that is, the Fish Slapping Dance is it. In pith helmets,’ armed only with two pilchards and an oversized halibut, Palin and John Cleese choreographed Sir Edward German’s Merrymakers Dance from his Nell Gwynn Suite to side-rupturing effect.

 If you don’t laugh out loud, check your pulse for signs of life.

The Chuckle Brothers - The Good Old Days

The old gag goes that when Mike and Bernie Winters played Glasgow in the early 60s, Mike was doing a solo spot to a stonewalling audience. When Bernie stuck his head from the wings, the cold silence was broken by a cry of ’Oh, my God – there’s two of them!’

You think the same, knowing that the Chuckle Brothers were once four, not two. You’d be wrong; it simply doubles their genius.

Here they are performing the Sand Dance from The Good Old Days, with Fawlty Towers’ Manuel’s dad Leonard Sachs wielding his MC’s gavel.

Lionel Blair dancers - Miss World

Lionel Blair – screen hoofer extraordinaire. He  wowed a massive TV audience with his Royal Variety routine with Sammy Davis Jr in 1961, was featured in A Hard Day’s Night soft shoeing his way through Happy Just to Dance with You, was a staple of terrible 70s TV variety shows, hosted the long-running panel show Give Us a Clue and, though he didn’t win, he stole the show on Big Brother 2014.

However, this remnant from a time that TV should really try to forget shows that it wasn't always done in 'the best possible taste'.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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