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TV Review: Britain’s Got Talent

Exciting. Extraordinary. Explosive. That’s what Ant and Dec may have promised us, from their giant British flag hot air balloon, as they launched the fifth series of Britain’s Got Talent on Saturday, but that certainly wasn’t what we got. Admittedly, the early shows of The X Factor, BGT and others are usually heavily populated with shamelessly embarrassing and deluded acts who sadly genuinely believe they can sing, dance, train a dog or act like a dolphin, but Saturday’s lavish return failed to light up the talent pool. Even the addition of visiting a new city, Liverpool, did little to give us hope of finding an act, which could generally grace the stage at the Royal Variety Performance.

Copyright ITV

Ignoring the talent side of things for just a minute, although doing so seems wrong following Nigel “Nasty Nigel” Lythgoe’s rant at contestants on the BBC’s So You Think You Can Dance the other week, “What’s the biggest word behind you?” he bellowed. I think you’ll find the answer to that is ‘Dance’ Nigel. Unfortunately the contestants weren’t as forthcoming in their answers or their dancing ability. It’s the same here, how can you ignore the basic premise of the word ‘TALENT’, it’s what the whole flipping show is supposed to center around.  Any way this year, sees the start of a “New Beginning” for the show. We have a brand new set of jazzy titles, a fresh new logo and new judges. Simon Cowell’s away, well for the auditions at least, busy preparing for the launch of the US X Factor and with Piers Morgan firmly in place as the new Larry King on CNN, in come comedian Michael McIntyre and David Hasselhoff (former judge on the American version) to join returning and now head judge Amanda Holden. So OK, I’ll concede, I guess for some that can be considered ‘Exciting’. So you get one out of three.

They are hardly three of “the most famous faces in Britain” though are they? In fact that statement is perfectly backed up by the first of this year’s contestants, Mary Sumah-Key, 45, a former care worker, whose act is to jump up and down whilst playing the same two notes on a mouth organ. She thinks Amanda Holden is “the one who made the comedy Absolutely Fabulous,” they all think she means Joanna Lumley, however it’s possible she actually meant Jennifer Saunders, but hey its funny all the same. She obviously of course knows the “Hoff”, but as for Michael she has no idea, so he convinces her he’s Simon Cowell, and we are off.

From then on it doesn’t get much better, there’s retired joiner John Courtney, 72, who strips and twirls around a lasso to the sounds of Ennio Morricone and Christine Fraser, 49, a support-worker and embarrassingly bad comedian who just talks about not putting on her slippers, hardly Bafta winning stuff.

Thank goodness then for David Knight who has to be one of the most confident nine-year-old’s around. He, compared to Christine, cracks out some pretty fun stuff for someone of his age and has the audience eating out of the palm of his hand. It makes you wonder why the big kids get it so terribly wrong.

Oh, and as this is BGT, if you want your does of talented animals, there was this little gem from Donelda Guy, 66 and her two incredibly well trained collies, Mega and Biba.

Sadly though, aside from the brief flashes of other seemingly talented acts that was about all there was on show. There was of  course the embarrassing dancing of a 53 year-old telecommunications analyst and a guy who can make his eyes pop out, but although they did well with the audience, can the really be justified as “talent” in the traditional sense of the world? Sadly it seems the answer to that is yes, this is the world that gave us Stavros Flatley after all.

On the whole Britain’s Got Talent is rather funny and in between all the madness there are some genuinely talented acts, however we are yet to see any real magic. Where’s our Susan Boyle moment? Or the next Diversity? Hopefully they will grace our screen over time. One thing is for sure, the lack of Simon Cowell on the judging panel is not as big a loss as we may have been expected. Michael McIntyre is genius in his role as judge then add in some great wise cracks from the Hoff and the usually charm of Ant and Dec and you have a rather good show. Yes it’s terribly low rent and easily digestible but isn’t that part of its charm?

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