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Co-created by X Factor judge, Simon Cowell, Britain’s Got Talent premiered on ITV1 on June 9 2007.
It was not unlike the X Factor itself in that members of the general public who have talent (or so most of them would think at any rate) could attend auditions that were being held throughout the UK.
The people auditioning were from all walks of life and of all ages from the very young to the very old. Age was no boundary as far as this competition was concerned. The countless acts were “skilled” in many, many different ways. There were singers, dancers, comedians and musicians to name but a few.
The prizes for this talent search were impressive to say the least – with the winner destined to receive £100,000 and to perform in the Royal Variety Performance in front of the Queen and the Royal Family.
The good thing about this programme is that it didn’t just highlight the minority of applicants that actually did possess a huge amount of genuine talent but also showed the annoying and sad people who actually believed that they not only have talent but had a chance of winning the competition!
The show was hosted by the cheeky Geordie duo, Ant and Dec. I think that they were their usual funny selves. Some of the best humour was from when the camera cut back to Ant & Dec standing at the side of the stage – very often making hilarious comments on the act currently making or breaking it on the stage. It certainly shows why they are as popular as they are.
The concept of Britain’s Got Talent is a pretty simple one. All of the acts had to perform their routines at audition in front of the three judges. The judges in the UK version of this programme were:
Piers Morgan: The former editor of both The News Of The World and Daily Mirror newspapers, Piers Morgan is extremely shrewd and doesn’t mince his words. I’ve never been a fan of Piers Morgan, always finding him to be a bit of an irritating arse – but somehow, this also made him a great choice of judge for this kind of contest.
Amanda Holden: This actress has starred in many well known television series including Eastenders, Cutting It and Wild At Heart. She is also well known due to her failed marriage to comedian Les Dennis and her subsequent affair with comedian/actor Neil Morrissey. She brought the emotional edge to the judging of Britain’s Got Talent which was a nice contrast to the other two judges – the last of which being:
Simon Cowell: Having co-created Britain’s Got Talent and having built a somewhat fierce reputation on Pop Idol and The X Factor, Simon Cowell was always going to be right in his element on a programme such as this. This competition gave him great opportunity to not only rip apart supposed singers but anyone else who was deluded enough to think they have even an ounce of talent. As has come to be expected, Cowell never beats around the bush when it comes to telling acts what he genuinely thinks of them. Sometimes he’s cutting and very cruel but sometimes you just have to think “Yeah! Simon’s right. Get off, you talentless muppet!”.
It was quite insightful seeing the three judges having to endure audition after audition, sometimes seeing some genuinely talented soul who they would put through to the next round – but mostly seeing idiot after idiot who were just totally ridiculous and sad beyond belief.
Once through to the next stage of the contest, the acts that had to re-perform in front of the three judges. The concept is quite a simple one in that the three judges sit at a desk beside each other and each of them has a button which can light a massive X that is suspended over each of them. If all three judges press their buttons and all three X’s are lit, the “act” must stop.
Among some of the memorable and to be sadly honest, pretty appalling acts were:
• The sad middle aged (and then some!) man who cross dressed into some supposedly Kylie Minogue-esque get-up (encouraged by his equally freaky wife, no less!) and then danced (badly) to one of her songs! Just wrong, wrong, WRONG on so many levels!
• The woman who had three seats set up on the centre of the stage – only to try to sit between her two cats whilst reading poetry. If you think this sounds awful and absurd – then you’re right!
As the “act” – ‘Cat-alyst’ got onto the stage the unintentional comedy kicked off. The mad bat asked Ant & Dec to carry her cats onto the stage for her – telling the judges “I had to get somebody to carry my pussy for me” (groan!). The audience applauded when they saw Ant & Dec… and believe me when I say it was the only proper applause the act got.
She then tried to read poetry to the cats but they kept hopping it and heading off. Leaving a red-faced Dec to collect the AWOL cats and bringing them back to their barmy owner. Hilarious and unintentional comedy. The act was unsurprisingly brought to a premature end when all three judges hit their buttons and lit their X’s. The woman then stood to make her case before sitting down again – almost on one of her cats! One of the judges (I believe it was Piers) asked her: “Are you sitting on your cat?” Fantastic stuff – but for all the wrong reasons!
• There was also a father and daughter act called Little Firewater and White Dove (AKA Brian and Melanie!). Brian was dressed in full Red Indian regalia while his daughter was dressed like a squaw.
Their act was simply Melanie standing against a wooden board while her father threw knives at the board surrounding her… Oh… and the knives were on fire! The act was accompanied somewhat appropriately by the Johnny Cash song ‘Ring of Fire’…
Now the worrying thing is that while the duo were talking to Ant & Dec before they went on stage, Brian was saying that he’d never been judged before and was really nervous. He was noticeably shaking and then stated his eyes were watering! Ant asked him “What? You’re shaking? That’s not very good when you’re about to throw knives!” The watering eyes was accompanied by worried looks to the camera from Ant & Dec – and I’m pretty sure they were genuine looks of concern. I wonder why?
The moments before the act was lightened up from the side of the stage when Dec asks cheekily: “Did anyone order an Indian?”
Back on the stage though, things don’t go so well when three of Brian’s flaming knives bounce off the board – scaring the hell out of the judges, Ant & Dec and practically the whole audience and of course Melanie!
The act was ended early by all three judges (though after Brian had lobbed all the knives as he was off target even without buzzers going off!). Piers says: “We collectively had to bring that to a close before you had an ex-daughter!”
Brian then states “What it is, is I’ve never been so nervous in my life” (in a deep Glasgow accent – which makes him what? Big Chief Glesga Kiss?
Simon quickly stops him in his tracks with: “With respect Hiawatha or whatever your name is, we stopped you because we think you were about to murder your daughter!” Unsurprisingly, the three judges didn’t put this act through to the semi-finals!
• There was also Caroline Boyes who did had a pretty terrible act dancing in a so-so fashion dressed as Madonna – complete with pointy breast cones! Now… although I do try to honour my good upbringing by not judging a book by its cover, I have to be honest that dancing ability aside, she just simply didn’t have the good looks to emulate someone as famous as Madonna.
With a fairly warty face (I’m sorry! If I didn’t mention this point, I wouldn’t be giving you one of the most blatantly obvious facts!) she couldn’t have looked less like ‘Madge’ if she tried!
Despite being shot down in flames by Simon, Amanda actually said “yes” to her going through to the semi-finals – which left the deciding vote to Piers. Piers also said “yes” and put her through to the semis – although I’m pretty sure he only did it to hack off Simon… and this worked a treat!
When she returned for the semi-finals, she had quite a nicely staged entrance as she danced to the Madonna hit ‘Vogue’ whilst surrounded by male dancers. She’d barely started when Simon hit his buzzer! The audience made it clear what they thought by chanting “Off! Off! Off!” in time with the music! Amanda then followed Simon by hitting her buzzer but Piers sat through the whole act – loving it (or pretending to hack Simon off again!) and said afterward that her dancing had improved and that she was clearly sexier than the real Madonna (which I believe was him clearly but subtly taking the piss!).
Amanda told her that everyone was entitled to their ‘15 minutes of fame’ and that she’d had hers – and that’s where it ends.
Simon of course bit his lip and held back by telling her: “Caroline, I’m going to be honest with you. I thought it was a complete and utter nightmare! It was as bad as I’ve ever seen. You’ve probably broken three of those dancers backs. I’m sorry but the idea of THAT being in front of the Royal Family… We would deserve to be shot!”
The audience shouted for her to get off again but despite the fact the final decision rested not with the audiences or the judges, she didn’t make it through to the finals. Phew!!! That was a close one!!!
• There was also controversy with a contestant named Richard Bates who was a pretty dreadful act singing along to a very cheesy sounding electric organ was ditched from the competition (despite being reluctantly put through to the semi-finals) when it came to light in the tabloid newspapers that he was on the sex offenders register. Dreadful stuff… Of course I’m not going to crack any “Would you like to see my organ?” jokes!
Another act – ‘The Kit Kat Dolls’ – a troupe of transvestites dancing and singing to the Pussycat Dolls song ‘Don’t Cha” got pulled from performing when the same tabloids revealed that three of the members were prostitutes! Don’t Cha? They do!
Despite some acts being pretty much awful, it was still brilliant entertainment! Now for a little list of some of the more memorable acts that did in fact prove that Britain’s got talent! To name but a few (apologies to any great acts I don’t name below!) and in no particular order of personal preference:
• Mike Garbutt: A brilliant comedy impressionist and comedian. Mike was carrying the torch from his father who had been a comedian on the club circuit for many years but is now a sufferer of Parkinson’s disease.
Mike wowed the judges with his pretty much spot-on impressions of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? host Chris Tarrant (and he is a very hard person to imitate!), David Beckham and Tony Blair to name but a few.
He didn’t get to the finals but I would genuinely like to think that we’ll see him again as he is a genuine talent.
• Jack Reeve: This wonderful 79 year old won over the judges and the nation with his great tap dancing routine. Jack was struck down with depression when his wife died of Alzheimer’s disease after caring for her for ten years.
He then decided that he would live his life to the full for himself and for the memory of his late wife and entered the competition.
Having just watched his performance again, I was very touched by the man and his performance. After being buzzed out by Piers almost immediately, Amanda and Simon put him through to the semi-finals. Despite another brilliant performance in the next stage, he never made it to the finals but I hope he’s aware that in the eyes of everyone who saw him perform, he certainly did himself and his late wife proud. Here’s to you, Jack!!!
• Tony Laf: Tony was another heart-rending act who had the viewers (and Amanda) reaching for their hankies. After his brother died of cancer, Tony then took on the role of a substitute father to his children.
Singing his own song “I’m Good” armed with his guitar, Tony blew everyone away and proved that he IS good. Not only a good singer and musician but a very good person – as Ant & Dec stood at the side of the stage along with his brothers children. When he tells the judges about his brother, he calls out the children onto the stage with him. What an inspiration this man is.
Despite another great performance which saw him get through to the finals, he was pipped at the post. With any luck, we’ll see more of this immensely talented man. He should definitely be given a record contract – if he hasn’t been given one already.
• Connie Talbot: Connie is an absolutely adorable six year old with an extraordinary talent. She is a fantastic little singer! She won the hearts of the judges (and had Amanda crying like a baby) with a wonderful and very emotional rendition of ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ – without accompaniment!
She was unanimously put through to the semi-finals where she sang a lovely rendition of the old Michael Jackson hit ‘Ben’. After breezing through to the finals, little gap-tooth-but-adorable-as-anything Connie sang ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ again but this time with musical accompaniment.
Despite being an incredibly talented child, she was also beaten at the live final but should surely be a well known name in years to come. I had heard that she had been given a record contract – so if you have genuine talent, you can win even if you lose the actual initial contest.
Some of the things I found very emotional were the video clips of Connie’s parents talking about how much she loves singing and can even sometimes be heard singing in her sleep. Now… if you don’t find that little factoid cute then there’s something very wrong with you!!!
• The Bar Wizards: These are two ex-barmen who have an amazing act with a flair show. What is a flair show? Well… anyone who has ever seen the Tom Cruise film ‘Cocktail’ might remember his and Bryan Browns characters tossing bottles back and forth to each other when preparing drinks? That’s a flair show.
To be absolutely honest and to give credit where credit’s due, the Bar Wizards (Neil Garner and Neil Lowrey) are absolutely brilliant at what they do. They were dizzying when they were throwing bottles and cocktail shakers back and forth whilst catching bottles etc by balancing on their arms and bouncing them about.
There’s really no way to put their act into words as it’s so very, very fast and impressive and most of all highly visual that nothing I can write here about it can do it the full justice it deserves.
When they finished their act, they poured drinks in red, white and blue for the judges and Ant & Dec (the latter of whom jokingly complained that their drinks weren’t alcoholic!). Genius!
• Paul Potts: This incredible opera singer actually went on to win Britain’s Got Talent – and it’s no wonder that he did.
Hailing from Port Talbot in South Wales, Paul Potts entered the auditions looking very nervous and utterly lacking in confidence but surprised the judges by singing Nessun Dorma absolutely amazingly!
All three judges were utterly blown away by this incredible audition and without a moments hesitation put Paul through to the semi-finals. The audience gave him a standing ovation – and this Simon said about his audition: “So you work at Carphone Warehouse… and you did that? I wasn’t expecting that one. This was a complete breath of fresh air. I thought you were absolutely fantastic!”. Piers then added: “You have an incredible voice. I think if you keep singing like that, you’re going to be one of the favourites to win this whole competition”. Amanda simply added: “I think we’ve got a case of a little lump of coal here that’s going to turn into a diamond!”
Paul Potts fought back the tears as the judges gave their opinions on his talent. It was certainly very emotionally charged.
In the video shown before his semi-final winning performance, Paul Potts said of himself: “My voice has always been my best friend. If I was having problems with bullies at school, I always had my voice to fall back on. I don’t really know why people bullied me. I was always a little bit different. So I think that’s the reason sometimes that I struggle with self confidence. When I’m singing, I don’t have that problem. I’m in the place where I should be. All my life I’ve felt insignificant. After that first audition, I realised that I am somebody. I’m Paul Potts.”
Now if those words don’t move you, then I don’t know what to say. It’s obvious that Paul Potts is someone who has had a very difficult life and has struggled through some very hard times to get where he is now – and deserves every success as he is an immensely talented singer. It’s also obvious that Paul’s wife, Julie Ann is 100% behind him and is so supportive, believes in him and is simply is his rock.
Paul raised the roof with a fantastic rendition of ‘Time To Say Goodbye’ for the semi-finals. Decked out in a very smart tuxedo, he was every inch the amazing opera singer that he is.
Returning for the live grand final, Paul gave another incredible rendition of Nessun Dorma that just absolutely blew everything and everyone away. Unsurprisingly, Paul stole not only the show but also won the entire competition. His prizes were £100,000 and to perform in front of the Queen at The Royal Variety Performance.
As if that wasn’t enough, he was immediately signed up by Simon Cowell to record an album. His album is called ‘One Chance’ and goes on sale on July 16, 2007.
I know a copy of it will be bought within our household – and millions of others.
If I could put a message to Paul Potts, it would be this: “Well done, Paul. You have earned every single bit of success that has come your way – and will undoubtedly continue to do so in the future. I hope all those people who ever bullied you and treated you wrong will realise how stupid they were!”
Paul Potts will also be touring the UK and although I’m not really big on opera, I think I would really like to see him perform live.
Anyway… back to the review of Britain’s Got Talent – and to my very likely long overdue conclusion…
Britain’s Got Talent should have been as mind-numbingly dull as every other “talent” show that seem to constantly be spewed across our television screens over the last few years – but it was (for me at least) different as it did prove that while Britain does actually have millions of disillusioned people that think they have talent – but don’t posses any whatsoever (who are very entertaining but sadly for all the wrong reasons), there are a very small amount of people who actually do have immense talent.
As this programme proved, this minority of wonderful people are in fact hidden across the country and are most likely like Paul Potts in that they will be doing mundane and boring jobs that may well prevent them from realising their full potential… but as Paul Potts proved, if you have the drive and the ambition to back up your hidden talent, nothing can stop you.