Only Ant and Dec can stop Britain's Got Talent being rant and dreck
BRITAIN’S Got Talent comedian Nabil Abdulrashid is a big, confident lad, isn’t he, making his victory speech during his final routine.
He’s also “unapologetic”, doesn’t “bow to pressure” or lack “a point of view” and is “so bright and so informed”, according to Amanda Holden, who certainly knows a political heavyweight when she sees one.
So, is it too much to expect him to be funny as well?
If it is, he can rant and rave about racism all he likes, to the top deck of the 109 bus to Streatham Hill or a late-night Channel 4 audience.
Either of them would provide a small but appreciative audience and be his natural home.
The last place on television Nabil ever belonged, though, was the final of Britain’s Got Talent, on Saturday night, ITV.
The climax to a series that lost its way so badly, during lockdown, the judges forgot the single most important thing about their show’s function.
It’s a light entertainment television programme, NOT Frankie Boyle’s New World Order.
A miscalculation that probably helped to explain why more than three million viewers had gone missing since last year’s final and a fair chunk of the others have had Ofcom on speed-dial ever since Diversity’s Black Lives Matter routine.
The anger wasn’t always justified and certainly didn’t get them anywhere, in terms of the complaints process, but the great thing about Britain’s Got Talent is that the voting procedure is ultimately stacked in their favour.
The viewers can take revenge and did so, quite brutally, by overloading Saturday night’s final with almost every available magician, except Norwegian bird-man Hakan Berg, who was the only good one.
A bizarre selection of acts which left us with one father/son combination, a couple of children and baseball cap-wearing Damian O’Brien, who might just struggle to hold my attention demonstrating a Magimix processor at the Woking Food Festival.
Pick of the bunch, for me, I suppose, was 38-year-old Magical Bones, who thought it a good idea to start his final routine by reliving the glory of his teenage breakdancing years.
So he was already out of breath when he locked himself inside a very small box.
By the time he’d spirited his way out of that thing, half a minute later?
I was kind of hoping the St John Ambulance brigade would come to Magical’s rescue, but instead we got Amanda Holden shrieking: “Is there anything you can’t do?”
Amanda, he can barely keep hold of his lunch at this point.
But I guess “Magical Bones” remains a much better stage name than “Standard Issue Lungs”. I will say this for him and all of our BGT magicians, though — they’ve certainly made me reappraise the career of Paul Daniels who was, I now concede, a giant of the industry.
’Cos there was a man who had gags, tricks, catchphrases, stage presence, charisma, a suit, a mortgage and all those other things that Saturday’s have-a-go-amateurs were so obviously lacking.
In light of other events, I’m also re-evaluating the contribution and business instincts of missing judge Simon Cowell, who would surely have realised the show was going to make a rod for its own back with all those empty political gestures and leave a lot of the core audience wondering why, if you acknowledge the murder of an American citizen, are you not moved to do the same for a fallen British policeman?
The whiff of double standards and bandwagon-jumping will probably haunt BGT for a long time to come.
Indeed, it would possibly have killed the show if it wasn’t still anchored by Ant & Dec, who avoided the trap of political posturing because they have a God-given talent for prime-time TV and natural instinct for light entertainment.
It was entirely appropriate, then, that the ultimate and arguably deserving winner was their Golden Buzzer act, Jon Courtenay, who also understood the BGT viewers are a patriotic and sentimental audience, to their bones.
His reward for tapping into these instincts was £250,000 and a spot “at the next Royal Variety Performance”.
I can only hope King William loves his routine.
Great sporting insights
Compiled by Graham Wray
Gary Neville: “United were on the shoulder of Liverpool. A long way off the shoulder. But they were on the shoulder.”
Alex Scott: “Fulham have already not got that momentum.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: “We need to battle the hatches down.”
- Grayson Perry championing the lost art of the compromise on his excellent Big American Road Trip (Channel 4).
- Ice-cool Kenny McLean sending Scotland into dreamland, at Hampden.
- Steph’s Packed Lunch breaking for a Simplicity Cremations ad (incoming!).
- The Boris sat-nav sketch and Keir Starmer’s Shadow Cabinet/donkey sanc- tuary eeh-awing down the phone to him, on Spitting Image.
- And Urban Myths’ touching tribute to the incomparable Les Dawson and his Parisienne Adventure, on Sky Atlantic, where the key exchange involved a typically mournful young Les telling philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre: “People want to be entertained. They don’t want to see a miserable fat man playing a wonky piano.” “You would be surprised.”
Akingly Obvious Box Tick
THE great thing about stupidity is it’s very democratic and operates regardless of race, gender, sexuality or class.
Take, for instance, ITV’s new black history show Sorry, I Didn’t Know, a quiz format hosted by Jimmy Akingbola, which fancies itself as being educational, funny and incredibly worthy, but is none of those things.
It is, though, a horrible personal reminder of another old box-ticking toe-curler, from BBC Scotland, called Superscot, where every single question related to the host country, so every third answer was “Robert Burns” and the Mystery Scot round involved trying to identify a 6ft 5in rock star in a mask.
(First guess) “Is it Fish from Marillion?” Yeah, well it sure as hell isn’t Ronnie Corbett.
The show’s long gone, thankfully, but it was a painful process that demonstrated, no matter how much you loved a country or cause, a bad TV production could make it look like the smallest, dumbest, most insecure thing on Earth.
TV won’t care, of course, that SIDK does exactly the same thing to Black History Month.
So long as it’s ticking boxes on screen, no one will be asking why the network’s management team didn’t contain a single black face until last month and how come, if its executives are so devoted to the cause, none of them resigned their incredibly well-paid jobs to even up the count.
All of the participants understand this, of course, which was why comedian Paul Chowdhry let slip they made the pilot four years ago and Jimmy Akingbola said: “If this goes well we’ll be back in about eight years’ time.”
And if it goes badly?
It’ll be back every week until ITV jumps on another bandwagon.
STEPH McGOVERN’S interview question of the week.
To a bloke holding a large tethered owl on an anti-bite glove: “Neil, you’re from Whitby Falconry. Tell us what your business is then?”
“Er . . .”
He’s an IT consultant, Steph.
Random TV irritations
Channel 4’s Adult Material satisfying the curiosity of all four people in the world who wondered what Boogie Nights would look like if it was re-made by EastEnders.
The four toe-curling desperados who made another series of Channel 4’s Married At First Sight possible.
Kiri Pritchard-McLean establishing herself as a BBC comedy regular without giving a hint she’ll ever say anything funny.
The First Dates restaurant being over-run with camera-chasing embarrassments, including both staff and diners.
And BBC1’s Sunday night drama Us serving up the saddest possible ending when the body of Douglas and Connie’s missing student son was discovered alive and well in Barcelona.
STEPH’S Packed Lunch, Friday, the host: “Are there any TV shows you’d like to see brought back?”
Yes. Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares USA (Channel 4, 12:10 to 1:05pm) and River Cottage: Summer’s Here (1:05 to 2:10pm). Every Monday to Friday.
Unexpected morons in the bagging area
Tipping Point, Ben Shephard: “First held in 1829, the annual Boat Race is contested by rowing crews from how many universities?”
The Chase, Bradley Walsh: “The didgeridoo is a traditional musical instrument from what country?”
Ben Shephard: “Who was the US President on January 1, 2000?”
Tom: “George Washington.”
MEANWHILE, on The Yorkshire Vet, Julian Norton asks: “Has anyone ever seen a dog that’s ingested cocaine?”
Seen it? I never missed an episode of Footballers’ Wives.
A little less ego, ladies
DAUNTING as it may sound, you don’t have to watch Little Mix: The Search for more than 20 minutes to become lost in wonder and awe at the sheer size and scale of the four girls’ egos.
They’re vast, all-consuming and certainly not open to the idea they’re just a marketing idea that got lucky.
Perrie seems particularly self-confident, although there’s not one of them who doesn’t nod along enthusiastically to all the praise that comes their way or know how to turn a compliment round to themselves: “You remind us of us.”
It’s probably one of the reasons why I can barely remember any of the contestants, unless they’ve got a stupid name, like Fiaa, one of the very fewwomen on Earth named after a football association, or rapper Ashley Tragic “Which stands for Taking Rap And Giving It Class” – or Try Retraining And Getting Into Catering, depending on your point of view.
The girls indulged them all, of course, and put nearly everyone through to the next round.
They didn’t really come alive, though, until they were on their own and Jade was issuing this mocking challenge to her three bandmates: “Girls, sing like you think you’re really good, but you’re actually really crap.”
Yeah, girls, stifle the genius for a second and knock yourselves out.
Great TV lies and delusions of the week
Celebrity Karaoke Club, Jess Wright: “I think I sang that in seven different keys.” (Eight).
Britain’s Got Talent: The Final, Dec: “It’s going to be a good one.”
The Chase, Friday, Bradley Walsh: “Ben, I think you’re a better player than that.”
Oh come off it, Brad.
He’s so thick his head whistles Somethin’ Stupid in a crosswind.
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