FIRST they were given a coach/chaperone for their cha-cha. Then Strictly Come Dancing producers were so afraid of disgraced dancers Seann Walsh and Katya Jones spontaneously combusting with lust they had to dance a quickstep with a guitar between their sweaty bodies.

It does not augur well for tonight’s show, where the pair, photographed having a drunken kiss a few weeks ago, will perform a Viennese waltz. I half expect the dance floor will be ringed with Strictly lackeys, ready to throw buckets of cold water over the pair if there is a hint of steaminess. Either that, or Katya will be dressed in a full suit of armour.

The comedian and the Strictly pro had the great misfortune to be caught out during the new age of puritanism. You didn’t get the email? Allow me to enlighten you.

The great spinning wheel of social mores has shifted away from hedonism and towards prudishness. Take The Little Drummer Girl, which sets up shop on BBC1 tomorrow in the slot recently vacated by Bodyguard. The drama about a PTSD-stricken former soldier was memorable for its forward-thinking approach to gender. To wit, it was a man, Scotland’s Richard Madden, who got his kit off. Madden’s flashing of his naked bahookie is known as “doing a Night Manager” after the Tom Hiddleston scene in a previous le Carre adaptation.

There will be no such carry-on in Drummer Girl, says one of its stars, Florence Pugh. As she told the Radio Times, the spy tale is a British-US co-production, which means American sensitivities have to be heeded. “America is quite scared of bums,” said Pugh. “And nipples. We had to make sure there were no bums and nipples out. Such strange people.”

Performers at the Wireless Festival in London next summer have been told not to swear or sport attire which “exposes the groin, private parts, buttock or female breasts”. Haringey council has imposed the no cursing rule following complaints from locals last year that profanities were wafting in their windows. In a separate move, Google has told its staff to mind their language, urging them not to swear in internal discussion groups.

Why is this happening now, you might ask. The answer, of course, is Donald Trump. Mr Trump, in style and deed, has coarsened political discourse. Things one never imagined a US president saying or doing in public have been said and done. See Tweets and dispatches from constantly gobsmacked reporters for examples.

But now, it seems, even Mr Trump is getting with the politeness programme. Following the sending of pipe bombs to high profile Democrats and Trump critics, he has appealed for more civility in public life. Surprise, surprise, he blamed the press for driving down standards. “The media has a responsibility to set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostility and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks and stories,” he told a rally.

Given his constant slating of the press, his praising of Congressman Greg Gianforte for physically attacking Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs (“My guy!” he called the Republican), and the way he encourages supporters at his rallies to turn on the media, the presidential advice on civility was like being lectured by King Herod on childcare, but every little helps and all that.

We can all agree that more politeness is a good thing, but is puritanism a step too far? Should we say to heck with being straitlaced and throw the doors open to more canoodling on Strictly and wall-to-wall buttocks in Sunday night dramas? Puritanism, after all, has too often been a cover for hypocrisy. If we said one thing while doing another we would be as open to criticism as Tory MSP Michelle Ballantyne who said people on benefits should only have two children. She herself has six, and has claimed child benefit for each of them.

Stuff puritanism, then, stick politeness where the sun don’t shine, and let’s see some “Whoa, Nelly!” in that Viennese waltz.


WHAT a fascinating picture of modern life is painted by the annual John Lewis shopping trends report.
In tracking sales the shop is able to set out what is hot with customers (leopard print dresses, trainers, robot lawn mowers) and what is not (door knockers, alarm clocks, replaced by mobile phones and other smart technology). 
The biggest discovery concerns big TVs. Sales of 70-inch tellies were up 97%, which means a healthy profit for TV manufacturers and a lot of domestic arguments. Large TVs seem to cause more rows between couples than children. One person wants as mega a screen as possible, the other thinks it is vulgar and won’t fit in with the tasteful decor.
I would be sexist and say the divide was strictly male/female, but a male colleague has just been complaining that the woman across the road has such a big TV he can read the scores if a football match is showing. 
That was his excuse, anyway. More details when the case comes to court. 


NOW that Peter Hain has used parliamentary privilege to name Sir Philip Green as the tycoon accused of sexual harassment, other famous business people can step away from the tweet button.
No sooner had the Telegraph reported that it had been prevented by the courts from naming the “leading businessman” at the centre of claims, than various bods took to Twitter to say it wasn’t them.
“I can safely say it is not me,” said Duncan Bannatyne. “I have no idea who that person is,” said Lord Alan Sugar, “but I certainly know it is NOT me.” Sir Philip has denied the allegations.
Lord Hain defended his actions in the face of criticism, much of it from lawyers arguing that politicians should not override a court judgment. The former Labour MP for Neath said he had received “overwhelming support – particularly from women” for speaking out.
Anyone surprised at such boldness might like to recall that the 68-year-old Lord Hain is the same Peter Hain who, as a young campaigner against apartheid, fought off attempts by the South African regime to silence him. A rebel without a pause indeed.