The programme will be broadcast on Saturday evening, 9 September, and apparently 3.5m people applied for audience tickets for the launch show. On the basis that there were probably no more than 500 of us in the studio audience, according to my calculation, I had a 1 in 7,000 chance of being there. In fact my odds were significantly worse than that as I didn’t even apply for a ticket (in spite of being an unashamed Strictly fan). It's only because one of my sisters applied successfully for a pair of tickets that I was there at all, coupled with the fact that my mother and my other sister couldn’t make it to London mid-week. (Yes, I am only my youngest sister's third-favourite family member).
As one of the newest members of the 'Strictly Family' (as we are now known) I would love to tell you which celebrities have been paired with which professional dancers, but having been sworn to secrecy on Tuesday evening, I won't do that (so tune in on Saturday to find out). However, I don't suppose I'm breaching any confidences when I say that the Reverend Richard Coles' dancing style has more in common with John Sergeant's than Ore Oduba's.
But I digress. What is the point of this blog (other than to boast shamelessly about my sparkling Tuesday evening in the George Lucas Stage at Elstree, home of the Star Wars Trilogy)? Well, as a corporate and commercial lawyer with a keen interest in intellectual property (IP), one of the many remarkable things about Tuesday evening was observing the sheer scale of the commercial undertaking unfolding before my eyes. Apart from 15 dancers, 15 celebrities, 4 judges (but no Len), 2 compères (Tess and Claudia) and the entire Dave Arch Band and singers, the number of people required to make the whole thing work was staggering. There were dozens of people who never appear on camera, all working away tirelessly, moving sets, adjusting makeup, sweeping up gold confetti, operating cameras and lights, moving fake palm trees, building (and dismantling) temporary stages for Rita Ora and Shania Twain, ushering the audience to our seats, distributing refreshments (four-finger Kit-Kats and cartons of juice), arranging pyrotechnics and generally ensuring that what you see on Saturday evening looks fabulous and effortless. But all of that would have no real purpose if the underlying IP wasn't fully protected. In a previous blog last September I wrote about the IP to the Great British Bake Off and the fact that the trade mark for the name of that show is owned not by the BBC, but by Love Productions Limited, the production company that makes the show. Presumably that fact contributed to the relative ease with which the show was moved from the BBC to Channel 4.
However, having had a nosey around the UK register of trade marks since my return to my usual non-sequined world, I see that the BBC (or rather The British Broadcasting Corporation, to give it its Sunday name) has protected the Strictly trade mark to within an inch of its life. Of the total of 1,131 registered trade marks owned by the BBC, nine relate to 'Strictly' and include 'Strictly Dance Fever', 'Strictly', 'Strictly Come Dancing', 'Strictly Fit', 'Strictly Stunning', 'Strictly Latin', Strictly Fab-u-lous', 'Strictly Beautiful' and 'Strictly Come Dining'. The full 'Strictly Come Dancing' trade mark covers six different use classes allowing the BBC to use the mark for cosmetics, computer games, CDs and DVDs, stationery and printed publications, clothing, footwear and games. That is in addition to the separate trade mark of the sole word 'Strictly' that covers use of the word for audio, video and the provision of entertainment on television. Well done to the BBC: that really is a belt and two pairs of braces.
So to answer my own previous question, the point of this blog is to encourage you to consider the use of trade marks to protect your brand and your business. The BBC is admittedly a very well-resourced organisation and can therefore afford to file trade marks more readily than many businesses. Having said that, the cost is, in the grand scheme of things, not particularly high and can be very effective indeed. My earlier blog about the Bake Off discussed the other means by which TV programme formats can be protected, and all of those will apply to Strictly. However, without the registered trade marks the BBC's ability to protect the brand would be very severely diminished. Please get in touch if you would like a word with one of our IP team about how to protect your IP.
In the meantime, please tune in to BBC1 at 7pm this Saturday. You may be able to spot my sparkly tie (and no, I'm not joking) as I was seated on the upper tier of the audience, immediately to the left of the balcony above Dave Arch's band, level with the top of the curved staircase down which the celebrities parade. You have been warned. And remember: keep dancing.