Sunday 21 December 2014

Heidi Scrimgeour: Strictly between us, but here's a celeb who wants to keep it covered

Published 29/11/2012 | 17:00

For fans of Strictly Come Dancing, dissecting the sartorial choices made by female presenter Tess Daly is as much a part of the joy of viewing as, say, trying to predict Len Goodman's scores (SEVEN) or debating the rights and wrongs of illegal lifts.

What Tess wears is all part of the frou-frou of the format. So it's no wonder that there was a kerfuffle among viewers when she dared to bare more than seemed befitting of a lady who presents a family-friendly show before the watershed.

Twitter was all aflutter with musings that ranged from whether Tess' formidable curves have benefited from some surgical enhancement, to if her fuller figure could indicate that she is 'with child'.

But as it turned out, Tess simply hadn't clocked herself in the mirror. Or so she told 'Hello' magazine in an interview published this week. Apparently Tess was simply unaware of quite how much flesh she had been flashing until she watched the sister show after the episode had aired. She has since vowed to cover up her curves to avoid distracting the viewers, and is reported to have said: "Oh my God, why did nobody tell me about the boobs?"

Why did nobody tell her? Well now, why would they? We live in an era in which it's perfectly normal for everyone from A-listers to wannabe pop stars to tweet snaps of themselves semi-naked, so the suggestion that Tess expects a Mary Whitehouse-style wardrobe intervention to protect her modesty seems a touch disingenuous to me. Senior execs telling a female presenter to cover up? I just don't think that's ever going to happen in telly land. As a former model, Tess Daly is no stranger to getting her kit off for the cameras – she modelled for lingerie brand La Senza in 2009 and has had her day gracing the lad's mags too, so I suspect her modesty isn't uppermost in the minds of those who hired her.

And the cynics among us will no doubt claim that Tess knew exactly what she was doing when she donned that scarlet split-to-the-thigh dress. Surely there can be no better way to keep ratings up than by keeping necklines ultra-low, and by drawing attention to her attire, even though the furore has long since died down, Tess is effectively ensuring that her face, amongst other things, remains on the front pages, which is no bad thing for a 40-something female TV presenter.

But I think we should credit Tess with significantly more intelligence that that. Maybe the dress was a desperate effort to boost ratings and keep her name in the papers, maybe it wasn't, we'll never know for sure. In these days of austerity measures, maybe the budget at the Beeb doesn't stretch to a dressing-room mirror, but whatever the truth behind the dress that rendered an imagination somewhat surplus to requirements, you can be sure that nobody forced Tess to fake feeling mortified by her fashion faux pas.

It would have been fair enough – and equally good in the publicity stakes – if she'd defended her choice of dress and silenced her critics with a well-placed word about how tough it is to be a woman of a certain age in the spotlight. But instead she held up her hands to a momentary lapse of judgment in the frock department, and vowed to keep her assets under wraps in future. And for that, I applaud her.

Only time will tell whether Tess adheres to her new demure dress code but in these days of endless flesh-baring in the name of fame and the quest for column inches, it is refreshing to hear a woman disavowing the practice of disrobing and calling for a return to a bit of sartorial decorum. It's also a deft touch for a woman whose husband landed himself in trouble (and in the headlines) for sending racy texts to a glamour model. It might be on-trend and more effective to bare all, but it will always be sweeter and more fitting to dress a little decorously.

Irish Independent

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