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Britain’s Got Talent

Nicola Mostyn thinks ignorance is bliss…

Published on April 16th 2008.


Britain’s Got Talent

There’s something to be said for being oblivious. Before reality TV shows such as X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, we were able to believe that our country must be brimming with hidden genius which would probably never see the light of day. Now we have to face the truth. It really, really isn’t.

What it is brimming with is delusional freaks whose standout talent is their ability to believe they are God’s gift to light entertainment when they’re about as entertaining as a hernia.

Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and Piers Morgan are back for a second series of Britain’s Got Talent, searching for an act worthy to appear at the Royal Variety Performance in front of Prince Charles. Most of the participants on the first episode are walking hernias.

For those not masochistic enough to subject themselves to BGT, here’s a quick recap:

Cardiff auditions: A man decides to redefine the Star Wars theme tune on an electric keyboard. Apparently the old brass version wasn’t “spacey” enough. He also seems to have redefined the melody. Simon Cowell is unimpressed. Man pledges to wreak revenge on Simon, possibly with a version of ‘Flight on the Bumblebee’ on the recorder.

Manchester: The love child of Duncan Norvelle and Freddy Starr does an impression of two members of Boyzone. Bizarrely, the panel love it.

London: A 74 year old woman in a leotard lies on a bed of nails whilst her next door neighbour gingerly treads on her. A nation is involuntarily sick in their mouths.

London (again): A young man, Donald, has come along to the auditions “to entertain himself,” seemingly unaware that he could have done that in his own bedroom and saved on train fare. Proceeds to murder The Zutons’ Valerie. Piers Morgan finds him entertaining, possibly because he is making Simon want to poke his brains out with a biro. Donald sings I Will Always Love You at Simon. Then Bleeding Love. Audience in raptures. Simon contemplates biro suicide.

As with many reality shows, the amount of self-belief possessed by the wannabees clearly involves some level of mental illness, so it all feels a bit grubby. But then there’s Ant and Dec. Not only is it biologically impossible to hate Ant and Dec, but they also make it difficult to feel outrage at anything they introduce.

We could watch them presenting footage of someone squeezing bleach into a kitten’s eyes, and, with one cheeky Geordie comment, we’d be lapping it up in a post-post-modern fashion. So that’s alright then.

And they weren’t all terrible. Acts good enough to make it to the next round included the Manchester School of Samba, an impressive magician called Rick Greene and an electric string quartet called Scala who, being both attractive and talented, had two up on most of the hopefuls.

The judges also buzzed through a girl from Cheshire doing “canine freestyle” (something I’d think you’d want to be very careful typing into google) and a contortionist law student who was impossible to watch without wincing.

As the show drew to a close, I realised that Britain’s Got Talent is just like Antiques Roadshow. Everyone who turns up is hoping the experts will confirm what they’ve always suspected: that they are in possession of something really valuable. Nine times out of ten, what they have is worthless crap. And as viewers we sit through the dross for two reasons: to watch the disappointment on the faces of the disillusioned, and to wait for that one brilliant moment when something precious turns up.

This week, that something was 13 year old Andrew Johnston from Carlisle. He gets bullied for singing. He lives on a council estate. “I don’t want to be hanging around the streets” he says, welling up. “I want to make something of my life.” Then he opens his mouth and sings Pie Jesu with the voice of an angel in the body of a mini Paul Potts. The audience were speechless. Copious weeping ensued.

He could win this thing. Him or the dancing dog.

Britain’s Got Talent, Saturdays, 8.05pm.

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