THE COUCH POTATO: BGT has gone from fabulous to formulaic
YOU’D assume, as ruler of his own TV production company, Simon Cowell watches a lot of British television.
Unless, of course, you’ve seen any of his shows.
In which case, you’d come to the logical conclusion he has someone do that for him.
Because if he’d actually sat through more than 20 seconds of Great British Bake Off, There’s No Taste Like Home, with Gino D’Acampo, or This Morning’s People’s Pizza competition, he’d have dismissed Food Glorious Food as the lousy home-grub copycat it is and not bothered making it.
And if you want more proof, look no further than Britain’s Got Talent’s series curtain-raiser.
Out trundled 14-year-old cerebral palsy comedian Jack Carroll on a walking frame, making Alesha Dixon chuckle: “You made me laugh before the act even started.”
Five-and-a-half months before, in fact, as anyone will attest who saw the Pride of Britain Awards, where he out-funnied Alan Carr with the same jokes as last Saturday night.
It’s as if BGT’s talent scouts hoped nobody would notice before recruiting him from there.
More worrying for Simon “I’ve got to tell you” Cowell, though, is that even if you hadn’t seen Jack on ITV last October, it was painfully obvious how he’d fare.
He’s disabled, he’s a kid, he’s sailing through.
If you think that sounds harsh, it’s actually a heartfelt plea to stop a programme I love going down the pan.
Britain’s Got Talent is the finest of its ilk.
Ant and Dec are brilliant in the wings, DavidWalliams effortlessly orchestrates front-of-house entertainment (even if that doubleteamed lapdance for Cowell was overly self-indulgent), it has a great ITV2 spin-off show in the shape of Stephen Mulhern’s More Talent.
And none of The Voice’s hopefuls can hope to touch the vocal talent of episode one show-stealer, 11- year-old Arisxandra Libantino.
So it pains me to say that this was the worst ever series opener.
All element of surprise has been lost.
The producers are clearly aware how crucial that is, hence the liveaction Dolby Digital surroundsound gospel choir where the singers popped up unexpectedly in the theatre boxes either side of the stage, which sounded like an unholy racket to me.
But they’re unable to unshackle BGT from its own crushingly rigid formula – programme-cluttering holding-room chatter, woeful act opens proceedings, more woeful acts signal the arrival of a good one, a judges montage, funny foreigners, someone pretty good to finish with, roll end credits.
Though I’d liked to have seen more of my favourite act of the night, manic costume-changing Marina Calabrese – Italy’s answer to Margarita Pracatan – and less of Hungary’s Got Shadow Theatre troupe Attraction.
Their act was excellently conceived, performed and executed, and it moved Amanda Holden to tears, not for the only time last weekend.
But it’s shadow theatre. Get over it.
All this amplifies small irritations, like Alesha Dixon’s baffling presence on the panel when she contributes nothing, Cowell telling no fewer than three acts that they were the best he’d seen,Walliams upping the ante with: “It’s a trillion per cent yes,” and Holden telling young Arisxandra: “You did literally lift the roof off this building.”
She literally did not, Amanda.
And when sultry jazz singer Alice Fredenham asked Cowell at the end of her audition: “Where do I go now?”, I found myself answering: “Usual procedure, Alice, is to lose out to a journeyman impressionist in the live shows and henceforth bill yourself for the rest of your career as ‘Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist, 2013’.”
So I’mlighting a candle for this once-great show.
It’s lost its mojo.
No, strike that.
It’s lost its SuBo
● The midnight hour sudden-death playoff drama at The Masters.
● Britain’s Got Talent leaving The Voice eating its dust in the ratings despite a sluggish start to the series.
● These reassuring words from Jake Humphrey: “That’s the end of Bedtime Live.” Promise?
● Several barmy moments from Baroness Thatcher’s funeral...
Daybreak’s Sue Jameson: “The Royal Jubilee was a very much happier occasion.”
● David Dimbleby asking Terry Wogan: “Seriously, what brings you here?”
● As the funeral cortege left the Palace of Westminster, ITV deciding instead to show The Jeremy Kyle Show whose topic was rather gloriously: “How could you say you’re not our dad after our mum died?” Well, Dennis?
● The unremitting misery that is The Village.
● Off Their Rockers predictably running out of jokes after one episode.
● The pandemic of “Great British...” something-or-other TV shows.
● Half the population of Broadchurch turning out to be mute duty solicitors.
● My Big Fat Gypsy Fortune chickening out of asking a single probing question about how travellers get all their money.
● BBC2 answering its own question: “Could We Survive A Mega Tsunami?” with: “The truth is no one really knows.” (Thanks for clearing that up).
● ITV dipping in and out of Baroness Thatcher’s funeral to find out what This Morning’s viewers were tweeting Stephen Mulhern in the Hub.
● Events commentator Alastair Bruce using 15 words when just one would do throughout Sky News’ coverage: “The gun carriage will turn a very tight corner to come to a position of stillness.”
Or “stop”, as it’s sometimes called.
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