Saturday, 12 May 2012

Milking the cash, Cowell...

So its finally over, the votes have been counted and the money split between its creator and and broadcaster. All ready to start all over again next year, I'm talking about Britain's Got Talent and let me say from the start I don't watch it. Now you're saying "Well why write about then and you're only going to dismiss it anyway!"

No and I'll tell you why, the show itself is one of many in a long line of talent shows which have been produced to satisfy the audience. Like one quote from the recent 'The Unforgettable Hughie Green' when one of the contributors was talking about Opportunity Knocks and Britain's Got Talent, they said "Same meat... Different Gravy..." Which is true, all talent shows can find their roots in Opportunity Knocks, no matter how they are judged. 

Now, I was a fan of the revival of Opportunity Knocks in the mid-1980's with both Bob Monkhouse and Les Dawson who took over from him. It was seen as a response to ITV's New Faces which had come back in 1985 with Marti Caine, a previous winner of the show herself. All these shows always had an element of public involvement, it was the public who influenced which act came back the next via a postal vote on the original Opportunity Knocks. For an audience knowing that they could have an effect on a television show was massive, read for mass audiences, mass appeal and mass influence.

"We'll be... Friends to the end!"
Rosser and Davies in full effect...

New Faces from ATV devised the panel to give advice, critique the acts and pass judgement. Tony Hatch, the songwriter was a key part of the balance to tell the audience how he though he act was and was plain speaking in the way that this was offered to the acts. This was seen as a 
departure to the norm by the press, having only seen people encouraging performers. Leading eventually to call Hatch 'The Hachetman' because of this. 

But from him through Nina Myskow to Simon Cowell, they are the pantomine villains but they are essential to a programme like this, meaning they are there to say the things that maybe no else would do. Cruel, maybe.. But important never the less. The experienced professionals who have seen it all before make for the balance of judges, rather then just blocking off, they are encouraging acts to improve. The likes of Arthur Askey are a case in point, the line can run through to David Walliams today, they may seem a million miles apart in their material but they share experience. 

For the flood of people who have said about a dog act winning Britain's Got Talent over another act, let's not forget that that was only a part of variety. With all angles covered by the show, it lets itself down down by having singing and dancing acts on the programme. OK, they part of of Opportunity Knocks, but there are so many shows which deal with nowadays, that they overshadow the other acts.

Last year, Paul Burling went into the final by doing impressions, he didn't but the exposure was enough to give him a pilot show on ITV. Rarely, do any acts from the show at least break through to get something like that. In reminding people of this, it has brought impressions back into the limelight, with Very Important People on Channel Four. The quality of that series may not be that good, but it shows there is a market for that branch of showbusiness again.

Britain's Got Talent is popular, plus if it means helping out the Artistes' Benevolent Fund, it is doing job. Sometimes we need a reminder of what variety is in all its forms, even taking on a form which means that it is put into a modern day context. It won't be quick disappearing off television screens soon, but variety is the spice of life and television can always do with that...

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