Lights! Camera! Action! It’s time for the talent…British talent that is! Yes folks, after 9 weeks of blindingly white pearly smiles, tear-jerking background music and platitude after platitude, the entertainment juggernaut Britain’s Got Talent came to its climax, in a show-stoppingly…boring finale. Gymnastics crew Spelbound were crowned the champions, in an extremely predictable public vote that paled in comparison to last year’s Diversity vs. Susan Boyle battle-of-the-giants.
First up were Twist & Pulse, a North London street-dancing duo, whose sideways caps, baggy trousers and chains made them completely stand out from any other street dancing duo. Yawn. Their main dancing competition was Tobias Mead, a supposedly “fit” (quote from Amanda there) street dancer whose name sounds like he should be a Harry Potter character. Tobias’ main appeal was that he can dance backwards. Again, yawn.
After Twist & Pulse came 14-year old Liam McNally, leading the brigade of mini musicians, including Connected, a Mancunian boy band who looked and sounded like they should be singing their Westlife (ahem, DAUGHTRY – ed) song sitting on stools (if it weren’t for the fact that their feet probably wouldn’t touch the ground.) Angel-faced Liam sang an equally angelic version of ‘Danny Boy’, complete with the obligatory doors-opening-to-reveal-a-backing-choir that talent shows do so well. 13-year old Kieran Gaffney trumped him in the cool stakes though, by furiously playing the drums on an inexplicably floating drum kit that would occasionally tip from side to side, prompting fears that he would face-plant onto the gyrating dancers below.
Where there is young talent, there will be old talent. Making up this category which last year was held by Susan Boyle was Scottish octogenarian Janey Cutler, singing a bizarre English translation of Edith Piaf’s classic ‘Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien’. Given that plucky Janey was meant to symbolise British spirit and was even introduced in front of a Union Jack, perhaps a French song wasn’t the best choice, especially with lyrics that just sounded clumsy. She’s already become a sensation in the United States. Typical.
In the “odd and entertaining, yet never going to win” category were Paul Burling, an impressionist comedian, and Tina and Chandy, a woman and dancing dog duo. Wheeling his way out onto the stage dressed as Andy from Little Britain, Paul raced through a menagerie of different voices set to ‘I Would Walk 500 Miles’ by The Proclaimers, ranging from Graham Norton to Krusty the Clown. I’m a fan of impressions, but I was thoroughly unimpressed by his act which was devoid of any satire and simply a showcase for his vocal range. Tina and Chandy were a genuinely endearing couple, though perhaps the dog would’ve preferred the limelight to itself. The last finalist was Christopher Stone, a Paul Potts rip-off, who was so boring that the only way he could make himself more interesting was to mention he was an accountant every five seconds.
So not exactly the stiffest competition. When gymnastics group Spelbound (I know, the spelling annoys me too) bounded onto the stage in their tight shorts and tops revealing tanned and muscled abs, I think both the judges and the audience knew that there was only one clear winner. I think it was when they started using one member as a skipping rope that Simon Cowell was busily making arrangements for their world domination.
Don’t get me wrong, they deserved to win after such a spellbinding (I know, I know) performance, but I couldn’t help feeling disappointed. Where was the rivalry, the build-up, the battle in YouTube videos? For all their talent, Spelbound are basically Diversity leaping around a bit more in tight shorts. And to think, Britain’s Got Talent won’t be gracing our screens again for another year! But don’t worry, there’s always The X Factor, America’s Got Talent, Strictly Come Dancing, Dancing on Ice…
Originally published on The Yorker 7th June 2010