The last time I watched Britain's Got Talent was when Pol Pot won.
You know. Pol Pot. The fat guy? The opera singer? The guy who won Britain's Got Talent in 2007? Pol Pot? No...?
Anyway, I made an active decision to watch it again this year. TWO REASONS. One, it feels like you're sharing something with half the country. Like a venereal disease. And two, BTG is quite an extreme show.
It's extreme in its mission to entertain. The only analogy I can think of is that if you were thirsty, BTG would jam a bottle of water between your teeth, grab your hair, force your head back, and tip the contents down your throat. When you eventually emerge, you're spluttering, choking, and probably crying. But you're not thirsty any more.
The hook of every show is its cast, so for BGT that's Ant & Dec and the judges. I like Ant & Dec. Mainly their magnificent foreheads and their sense of fun. They're ideal hosts for something like BTG, and they're a doubleact famous for never missing a beat. The judges were Simon Cowell, David Hasselhoff, Amanda Holden, and Michael McIntyre.
Simon Cowell is undefeated as the most dislikeable person on television, and he's so botoxed and spray tanned now that he resembles a chocolate duck. Any logic he voiced was cancelled out by his unconditional love for performing dogs, and his frantic dream of finding "the next Lassie". He's out of his mind.
I was surprised to be endeared by David Hasselhoff, with his roars of happiness and his bewildering love for Briddish culture. But as a judge he kind of failed, because he kept telling lies. His reaction to most of the acts was overwhelmingly positive, but when next they took the stage he sprang on them "I actually didn't think you were that good last time, but now I do".
Simon Cowell and David Hasselhoff were playing the roles of Man, and much of the time had shirts buttoned so low that you could see their sweat drizzling straight from forehead to treasure trail.
Amanda Holden played the role of Woman. She bludgeoned her responsibility as the only woman on the panel by a) allowing Simon Cowell to hold her hand every time they made an entrance, and b) talking endlessly about boobs and bums, which, to be savagely honest, I think a lot of 40-year-old women do in an attempt to be considered one of the girls again.
Michael McIntyre was the only one who brought giggles to the panel. And he was good. I really like Michael McIntyre. I do. And I've probably argued about him with my friends more than I have about any other subject. I automatically have good feelings for every stand-up comedian -- they have default high status, as far as I'm concerned. And if he can bring comedy to broad audiences who would never -- ever -- have been seen attending live stand-up before they discovered him then I think that's brilliant. Michael McIntyre's brought comedy to a wider market, so if you're in the comedy industry then you should be having an intimate mouth-on-shoe session with him as we speak.
BTG was on every week for a while, and over the last week was live every day -- and at least half the time I managed to catch it. The live aspect was fine, except Simon Cowell was obviously dwelling on it a bit at first, because five minutes into the first show, at 7.30PM, when the viewers at home were tucking into their potato smiles, Cowell had already mentioned breasts and masturbation, and had feigned a sexual advance or two on Amanda Holden.
After we slid past that slimy beginning, it was on with the show. Which was like being on a massive high, but in Poundstretchers.
That said, the majority of the acts were completely crap. I mean, sure, the whole premise of BGT is that it's for enthusiastic amateurs, so they're naturally rough round the edges, but there really was some anti-talent in this show. And I don't just mean in the auditions, or in the semi-finals, but in the grand final itself. I think this was partly because the judges kept putting through acts based on the sheer willpower of the performances, rather than the quality. That's very nice and everything, but it's not called Britain's Got Effort.
As for final performances, the production was horrible and blinding, and smeared with embarrassing backing dancers/singers that only ever made the acts much, much worse. There was also the issue of time. The last auditions, the semi-finals, and the final itself was all jammed into one week, so many of the performers had days -- or even hours -- to come up with a whole new act.
The key talents included: bending, staring, flashing, waving, dressing, crying, flapping, miming, painting, barking, clapping, mooning, and old age. There was also singing, dancing, and a few instances of being staggeringly cute. The leader of the staggeringly cute category was Ronan Parke, a fey 12-year-old with such unabashed sugar sweetness that Dec was at one point two seconds away from signing the adoption papers.
Over the last week, Ronan Parke was bullied by the internet and smeared by the media, and it all seems uncomfortably cruel to a kid with obviously delicate sensitivities. Or to any kid, for that matter. (I can only imagine the playground reaction to the two lads who performed a rap called "I love you granddad".)
Ronan Parke didn't win, possibly because of (in all likelihood false) press allegations that he'd been groomed for the show. The winner was dark horse Jai McDowall, a Scottish power balladist whose almost crippling nervousness charmed everyone.
He grinned happily through the closing credits, stammering the word "amazing" and sweeping confetti from Ant & Dec, and the nation went "YAAAAYYY OH MI GOD YAAAAYooh look, Doctor Who's on".