Page last updated at 09:30 GMT, Friday, 19 September 2008 10:30 UK

The world of TV ballroom shows

By Michael Osborn
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Popular television show Strictly Come Dancing, which pairs up celebrities with professional ballroom dancers, is about to begin its sixth series in the UK.

The BBC format has been sold to some 30 countries around the world from the US to Slovakia - and has inspired other local versions.

We take a glimpse at a handful of shows from across the globe to see how Strictly shapes up in other countries.

Indian flag

India's version of the show - Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa - has been extensively remodelled to appeal to the country's viewers and give a nod to its musical and dance traditions.

Its famous contestants learn ballroom dances with a professional partner, but the sequences are heavily infused with the exuberance of Bollywood film music and popular songs.

India's show mixes ballroom with Bollywood

India is the only country without a big band to provide the musical accompaniment, as big film songs sound better coming from a backing track.

The programme has three judges, with Big Brother and Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty on the panel in its first series - and putting in the odd dancefloor performance herself.

Unlike the UK, the main show is pre-recorded, but has proved a hit in India's vibrant and very competitive TV market.

USA flag

US ballroom show Dancing With The Stars, recorded in Los Angeles, bears a strong resemblance to the BBC original.

UK judges Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli sit on the panel, while voiceover man Alan Dedicoat provides pre-recorded introductions for the dances and scores.

The ratings winner has seen a parade of celebrities take to the dancefloor, including homegrown names Heather Mills and Spice Girl Mel B.

The US version has also spawned spin-off products, including dance-based exercise DVDs, and has come back across the Atlantic to be screened in the UK.

Ukrainian flag

Ukraine is one of the many countries in eastern Europe to take up the Strictly format, including Estonia, Croatia, Russia and the Czech Republic.

Poland has kicked off its eighth series and Bulgaria is the latest country poised to put dancing on the small screen.

The Ukrainian version is called Tantsi z Zirkamy (Dances with the Stars) and is a popular draw with local viewers.

A glimpse of Tantsi z Zirkamy

The show sticks quite closely to the original format, but dances are often performed to well-known Ukrainian and Russian language songs, while each programme contains topical jokes and traditional Ukrainian quips.

Some editions have special themes, such as the presenters dressing up as Cleopatra and Caesar.

Singers taking part in the dancing competition have been known to break into song before putting their best foot forward.

Unlike the UK original where the winning couple walks off with the glitterball trophy, the first Ukrainian victors in 2006 were awarded with a cash prize and a trip to the Rio carnival to show off their dance moves.

Chile flag

The Latin American country's version of the show, El Baile (The Ball) is described as "fabulous" by BBC Worldwide's Duncan Cooper, executive producer for local formats.

"It's very Latin, very fast-paced, very colourful - big and brash," says Mr Cooper, who has supervised numerous Strictly franchises around the world.

"It's a really big style variety show with great ensemble dances," he adds.

The show's frontman is fast-paced Rafael Araneda, a well-known face on Chilean TV who also hosts his own two-hour weekly show. El Baile is described as a "two-hour epic".

Australian flag

Australia was the first country to take up the Strictly Come Dancing franchise, where it was named Dancing With The Stars.

The show has just kicked off its eighth series - the first to reach that milestone.

It is largely similar to its UK counterpart, all except for its new co-host, former Neighbours actor Daniel MacPherson.

While the lynchpin of the original Strictly is 80-year-old veteran entertainer Bruce Forsyth, MacPherson weighs in at a youthful 28.

Brazil flag

Brazil's unofficial version of Strictly Come Dancing has a distinctly local flavour.

Danca dos Famosos (Dancing With the Stars) is part of a bigger Sunday television spectacular in the Latin American country, Domingao do Faustao.

The dancing show is hosted by larger-than-life presenter Fausto who possesses a booming voice.

The broader entertainment programme lasts some four hours on Brazil's largest TV network Globo, which sits around another Brazilian national passion - football.

Brazil's unofficial version is bold and brash

The show outdoes its UK counterpart in terms of colour, flamboyance and extravagant dancefloor moves.

Latin and Caribbean dances, including the merengue and zouk, take precedence over the starchier ballroom numbers familiar to fans of Strictly - and there is also some pole-dancing.

The slot - one of the most-watched in Brazil - is also home to the country's answer to Strictly rival Dancing On Ice.

The UK's sixth series of Strictly Come Dancing starts on BBC One on Saturday, with other versions around the world screening this autumn.

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23 Oct 07 |  Entertainment


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