Saturday, 21 January 2012

"And I mean that most sincerly folks..."

What is star power? We ask that all the time, but what makes a star a star? In the terms of today, a star can come from anywhere, reality television, a newsworthy event or someone with an incredible talent. Now we look upon Simon Cowell creating entertainers and singers with his shows, but his are only in a line of shows. 

Go back 25 years ago and there was the second incarnation of New Faces presented by Marti Caine, as the Wonderland documentary before Christmas last year showed, that the business that we call show can be cruel as well as good. But what about the actual people who see the acts?

The auditions were usually hidden from view to a viewing audience, with the producers and the hosts looking over the acts. In particular Hughie Green, he himself a child star who had launched Opportunity Knocks on ITV in 1956 when Associated Rediffusion made a series, then  later revived in 1964 by ABC. It was a case that Green cared about the acts who were auditioning, even giving them tips on how to improve their acts. But Green's fearsome reputation had been getting in the way of the production, with his occasional outbursts to those involved with the programme and the slow politicisation of Opportunity Knocks from what was one of ITV's popular programmes with the public made Thames Television uneasy.

Green's very own popularity with the public was undiminished, with himself being mobbed at any public appearance. The power of being one of ITV's biggest stars at that time lead him to think hat he could have total control over the programme. The format of the show was his anyway, so even he could control if he wanted it to stay with ITV. Using this he took an edition to the USSR, one to Ireland and also to Australia as well. 

But power can corrupt as well, Green know for his Right-leaning politics started to use the show to criticise the government of that time, think the power of television could have an effect on the people, the zenith of which would have to be 'Stand Up and Be Counted...' Using the opportunity, he would use his show to set out what his feelings of what Britain was becoming at that time, even putting subtitles on the screen for people to sing along at home almost like a television rally. In terms of this, it does seem a bit like the Howard Beale speech in Network, pleading for viewers to grab 1977 as their year. 

Enough was enough for Thames, even after this rant, the continuation of political comments by Green into the programme made Thames very nervous, so it was little surprise when Thames axed the show in March 1978, replacing it with The Kenny Everett Video Show to change the demographic and appealing to younger viewers. 

Green tried to bid for the London Weekday franchise in 1980, hoping that the IBA would turn it into a seven day franchise. The bid would not get off the ground, for giving a man who's opinions had become more solid in his beliefs would have been a massive shock for the IBA to do that. That the power of television had made a star and a star had used it for his own purposes... No person had done it before and not since, no matter how big they are they can have a huge fall... Fame creates, if used wisely, it can repay you... Otherwise, it can chew you up and spit you out...

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