Everyone's favourite thinly veiled 19th century freak show is back again! "Roll up, roll up!" cries Simon Cowell, while the two smarmy sycophants he calls his fellow judges, Amanda Holden and Piers Morgan, half-heartedly repeat what he says.
As you may have guessed, the edgy and innovative ITV have changed absolutely nothing about this ratings smash, and why would they? It's a myriad of successes, even the finest minds in Britain couldn't find a single fault with it. This is, of course, why more people watched it than watched the election debates on ITV, 10.3 million for BGT, compared to 9.4 for the election debate. Scarily this means, logically, that more people care who wins Britain's got Talent than who runs the country. Perhaps we could combine them, hold "Westminster's got Talent", and have the winner form a Government ("What are you going to do for us today?" "I'm going to fiddle my expenses, live on stage! See that DVD I bought? No you don't! It was a taxi journey to Luton airport!")
We've gone off-topic. I say "we", I'm perfectly happy to take most of the blame for that. Really, I've gone off-topic. You've been wondering what I'm going to say about the judges. I'll enlighten you.
The Judges are Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and Piers Morgan. As with all judges on these shows, they have absolutely no right to be judging "talent", and are so heavily formulaic, I'm surprised they don't just tattoo what they're going to say onto their foreheads, so I don't have to hear them actually talk. Or we could train some budgies to do their job. Amanda-budgie will give a standing ovation to anyone who didn't get "buzzed off", Piers-Budgie will be delighted to vote them through, or whistle at the contestant with barely concealed scorn for time-wasting, while Simon-budgie will look to the audience for a pause so long you'll stop and look at your watch, as if considering their opinion and everything he's seen, before giving the inevitable "You have three yeses!" whistle-sequence.
In our sadly non-Budgie reality, Simon will always be the "Hard to impress, speaks his mind" man, Amanda is "Maternal figure, looking out for the acts" whilst Piers Morgan critically reviews everything as either "Reminding him of everything good about Britain" (Not the bloody News of the World, eh Piers?) or "Hysterically bad".
In what I can describe as a misguided attempt to mix this formula up, Simon Cowell contracted the flu (Which I would be prepared to bet was something to drive this horrendous storyline along, rather than a real event. The odds of Simon Cowell catching the flu are roughly the same as the odds of Simon Cowell catching smallpox. He's a millionaire TV presenter, not a homeless man or an old, impoverished woman.) and everyone's favourite Louis Walsh was drafted in "Last-minute" to judge.
Louis Walsh was, of course, Britain's favourite formulaic character from one of the other shows in Simon Cowell's stable. Fortunately, he is almost pleasingly anarchistic in this show, and you can really tell he lo...Oh goodness, I can't lie, Louis seemed to be less "Difficult to please" and more "Arrogantly dismissive", and was essentially alone in all but the most obvious of judgements, while Amanda and Piers appeared to rebel by voting against him.
Simon Cowell came back and so forth, but to be honest, if you care about the story, watch Eastenders or something, that's not what drives this show at all, it is the contestants! And they have delivered, turning up hundreds, nay, thousands of people who think they have a gift. Even I, with my untrained eye, can see they do not possess anything more than a misguided ego and wilfully horrid friends telling them "It'll be a laugh!", before taping it and playing it any social function they attend for the next 15 years. "Oi, Dave! Get the video! Tim's comin'! I haven't watched that muppet sing f'years!" (This makes every contestant's choice of song hilarious if you think they're going to have to watch it with their "Mates" about 10 years into the future).
And inevitably, they will sing. Oh, they sing or they dance, but if we remove music from the equation we are whittled down to about 3 contestants. And we found one of them in this show, Kevin Cruise, who sang too, but the sheer spectacle of the man brought me to my very knees weeping with laughter, which I think was unintentional, and therefore, even more hilarious. He came on a ship-thing and said he was a ship entertainer.
Briefly, I thought the man was insane, and was talking about the little cardboard ship he had with him, and was about to pull out sock-puppets of the captain and the chef and speak to them, and his act would essentially be a man losing his mind right there on our screens! "Ahoy, there, Captain Hand, how be the ship today?" "Oh, fine lad, she's in top condition" he would mouth back with his hand, then he would get his left hand to talk to his right hand "Alright chef, what's for dinner?" "Risotto, cap'n!", so that he himself is totally uninvolved. I would find that bizarrely engrossing.
Sadly, though, it turned out he meant a real ship so all was well. In a sense. He was the single campest man I have ever seen, it's like he's the secret lovechild of Dale Winton and Graham Norton, which should alarm you enough to realise he will almost certainly win.
This prompted Piers Morgan to say the funniest thing he has ever said, which was "I'll go cruising with you anytime", which was, I imagine, wholly intentionally innuendo-ed.
At its heart this show is a meaningless foray into how deluded people are. Every audition is exactly the same. Anyone who does anything other than sing or dance is, essentially, crap at what they do, or it's so mundane, it's about as entertaining as watching your mum do the laundry, then three people give a prepared critique of it, questioning at times whether the Queen would like to watch it.
But look outside, that vast, vacuous heart, and the show is a lovable way to kill an hour of your time. If reading is too hard and you just want the magic picture-box to thrust an hour of your life away, I can think of little better than this show. Is Simon going to pause for 2 seconds, or 3? And then is he going to smile and say yes, or say yes and smile? Tense thoughts.
If I'm brutally honest, the only elements of this show I genuinely enjoyed were Ant and Dec, who shone so brightly in a sea of otherwise putrid dross and cluttered detritus, I can assume they are the sole survivors and have lit flares so that they can be airlifted to a better show. They seem funny and obviously are by now, pretty good at working with eachother, as you'd hope.
I realise this takes heavily from Ben Elton's Chart Throb, and therefore encourage you to read it if you have time. Fortunately, Cowell has admitted he is quitting, and I can only hope this causes the whole sordid thing to collapse under the weight of its own self-satisfied smugness.
It would be easy to take digs at Piers Morgan, but since I'm a gentleman who doesn't wilfully offend celebrities, unlike some former newspapers editors who have been named frequently, I shan't. But it was pretty hard not to call him "Piers Moron" all the way through (Private Eye).