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The Talent Show Story – Review of Episode 2

The second episode of the Talent Show Story proved to be more entertaining than the first with a good mix of humour and history to entertain most viewers.  Where else would you get to find out the link between Simon Cowell and Zig and Zag, dogs attempting to play the guitar, and a chicken factory worker nailing both the Bee Gees and Aqua in the same show?

The birth of the talent show judges

As someone who grew up in the 80s and 90s, I was amazed to find out how many of the famous faces and entertainers from that era got their break on New Faces in the 1970s.  Winners of the show included Roy Walker (it’s good but it’s not quite right), Les Dennis (now doing odd jobs with Barry from Eastenders for Ricky Gervais), whilst plenty of others including Lenny Henry, Victoria Wood went on to bigger and better things.  Jim Davidson was on it too (the racist homophobic guy who did the Big Break).  The focus was not so much on the contestants though, but on the judges and in particular Mickie Mosh and Tony ‘the hatchett’ Hatch.  As well as being the first pair to be brutally honest with contestants, they also generated massive interest from the tabloids.  As they say, any publicity is good publicity and it was revealed that ITV bosses encouraged Mosh and Hatch to be forthright in their views to keep the tabloids entertained.

Britain’s Got Talent … or has it?

Britain’s Got Talent almost never made it to the air in the UK and ironically it was NBC who picked the show up first.  It only then came back to the UK following the huge success it had on the other side of the Atlantic.  Simon Cowell revealed that he was getting bored with singers and wanted a bit more variety and to bring back the spirit of Opportunity Knocks.  Perhaps more telling was when he said that “I live to find a dog that can play instruments”.  Well for those of you in the same boat as Simon you need look no further.  My Dream Is To Be has a whole section on famous pets.  Check out Whizzer the dog singing Bohemian Rhapsody, and Carrie the labrador dancing the meringue for starters.  Much of the entertainment unfortunately comes from the cringe-worthiness of the performances.  As Piers Morgan said, “everyone in Britain thinks they have a secret talent and almost all are wrong”.

Simon Cowell – from Sale of the Century to becoming a mega rich international celebrity who we hate but are all secretly jealous of…

We have the magical clip of Simon Cowell on Sale of Century.  At some point after this decided to move on from the afternoon game-show circuit and get into the music business.  Not only did he have huge success with Robson and Jerome (from Soldier, Soldier) and the dodgy boy band Five, he also propelled Big Breakfast icons Zig and Zag to the top of the charts with their hit song ‘Them Girls’.

Rather than simply retiring at the top, Simon Cowell joined up with Simon Fuller, the man behind the Spice Girls, to create Pop Idol.  His cutting lines, including, “Without being unkind, you will never in a billion years be a pop star”, and “That was the equivalent of musical food poisoning”, turned him into a national celebrity overnight.  He was then perusaded to appear on American Idol where his honesty ignited a wave of publicity which ultimately propelled both the show and him to the top of the entertainment world.

Worst Auditions on Talent Shows

What makes the modern era of talent shows different from the past is the filming of the auditions, the best and worst of which are broadcast for our viewing pleasure.  This process that has given us some of the most entertaining and memorable moments on TV talent shows.  87 year old Edna Moore from the bizarre duo Spirit and Destiny was one of the few people to successfully put Simon Cowell in his place following a typical cutting remark.  We fear though that despite being told he “was an ignorant person” who best “alter your ways”, Simon has not taken heed of the advice.

Our favourite ‘worst audition’ though is Robert Unwin from the chicken factory.  His Bee Gees rendition is pretty painful, but he really captures the spirit of Aqua with his version of ‘Barbie Girl’ where he takes the role of both the woman with squeaky voice and the bald guy playing Ken to great effect.  Click here to view Robert Unwin’s X Factor performance.  Yes he is not Elvis Presley, but I hope you agree there is unfulfilled potential under there bursting to get out…

If you like watching some of the best and worst of talent show auditions, check out the TV Talent section of the site where we have videos from all the main talent shows for your perusal and entertainment.  Until next time:

- Oh, I’m Having So Much Fun!
- Well, Barbie, We’re Just Getting Started!
- Oh, I Love You Ken!

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The Talent Show Story – Review of Episode 1

Whilst the Saturday night talent show is on hiatus, ITV have decided to broadcast a five part special on the history of the UK TV Talent show.  Each show is split into four 10 minute sections, each dealing with an different ‘event’ or talent show with contributions from those who were there.  Highlights from the first week included reminders of how Simon Cowell had a dubious man-crush on Gareth Gates, and clips of Nina Myskow from New Faces who was ripping contestants to pieces whilst Simon Cowell was trying to make his fortune on Sale of the Century (click to see the him in action…).

Watch the episode on ITV Player here

Susan Boyle on Britain’s Got Talent

The first part of the show focused on the phenomenon that was Susan Boyle.  The first thing I thought when I saw her interviewed was how amazing it is what money, fame, a visit to the Priory and a bit of Gok Wan style makeover treatment can achieve.

What made the segment interesting was not how she was portrayed as an old spinster with a beautiful voice, but at how quickly she turned into a global superstar through Twitter and Facebook.  The show revealed that in 2009 her audition was the most watched video clip on YouTube.  It re-emphasised how quickly news can spread and that if you make a splash on the internet you can literally go global in hours (which is why budding Susan Boyle’s should share their talent videos on My Dream Is To Be).

Myleene Klass.  Oh and Popstars.

She can not only look fantastic playing the piano and advertising shampoo, the next segment reminded me that Myleene Klass used to be in a band called Hear’Say, the winners of the Popstars TV show.  Whilst it is now a standard aspect of many TV talent shows, Nigel Lythgoe told the story of how he took the idea from Austrailia of focusing on the audition process that manufactured groups go through.  A couple of things stood out: first was Simon Cowell turning down the chance to be on the show; second was Nigel telling Kym Marsh that “Christmas may be gone but I see the goose is still fat”.  Any man saying that to a woman has cajones the size of grapefruits so whilst we do not condone sexism or fatism or other isms at My Dream Is To Be, we applaud his reckless, entertaining honesty.

Nina Myskow on New Faces

One of the more interesting segments was the retrospective on New Faces from the 1980s.  Whilst the acts ranged from bad to not quite as bad, the show made a villainous star out of Nina Myskow, who makes Simon Cowell look like a pussy(cat) by comparison.  Here are a few of her killer lines:

“You would go down as a cabaret at a gay ball”

“They have a lot in commo with George Formby – they’re both dead!”

“She sounds like a goat on heat”

I say bring her back to primetime TV if she can still be as creatively rude as she was on New Faces.

Will Young v Gareth Gates (and Simon Cowell)

Whilst my view of Gareth Gates was coloured by his affair with the creature known as Jordan, he had the perfect combination of boyish good looks, angel like voice, and a disability that made Simon Cowell delcare “jackpot”.  The only problem was that Will Young had a better voice and eventually won the show. Simon probably knew this and took an instant dislike to Young which he very openly described in the programme revealing that he thought him to be “arrogant” (really Simon?  Are you any better?).  The man crush Simon had on Gates came across as very creepy.  The battle between the two ultimately garnered the biggest public vote in UK TV history with 8.6 million people spending 10p to choose their winner.

Final thoughts

In summary, the Talent Show Story was fairly entertaining and served as a stark reminder of how popular TV talent shows can be.  The Talent Show Story really displayed that the key to success is the characters, be they contestants or, more often than not, the judges.  Simon Cowell didn’t fair too well in this show, but with the story of the X Factor to come, ITV are saving up more of Mr Nasty for future weeks.

Check out the TV Talent section of our site to see the best X Factor videos, Britain’s Got Talent videos, American Idol videos and many more. You can also to upload and share your videos.  Maybe you will be the next star to get discovered…

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