The disturbing racial bias of The Greatest Dancer

From Strictly to Big Brother, race issues have blighted TV talent shows before. But is this the most egregious example yet?

Russian-trained ballet dancer Yassaui Mergaliyev steps up to perform. For two minutes, he does a staggering routine of superhuman spins and mid-air split jumps to try and wow the studio audience of BBC’s The Greatest Dancer. The presenters, Jordan Banjo and Alesha Dixon, have their jaws on the floor. The celebrity dance captains Cheryl, Oti Mabuse and Matthew Morrison are screaming themselves hoarse: “You have to vote for this guy!” But the Kazakh dancer does not get enough votes to go through to the next round. Someone in the crowd yawns. “It just wasn’t that exciting, was it?” another audience member whispers to her neighbour.

The BBC’s latest Saturday night competition has a unique twist: it hands the “power to the people” (and we all know
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