Well, seemed like a good idea! One rainy afternoon we noticed an advert online for free audience places to Britain’s Got Talent at the Lowry Theatre in Manchester. So for those who don’t know, substitute the word ‘Britain’s’ for anywhere in the world i.e Thailand’s; America’s; Ethiopia’s; Stewart Island’s et al, and you should get the drift.
It’s all about finding talented entertainers and placing them in a competition environment, and someone has to ‘win’.
…………’s Got Talent is a televised talent spotting competition, and part of a huge global franchise created by the ubiquitous Simon Cowell. Now, some people love and revere the megalomaniac music mogul. However, many people in the music industry loathe the guy for reinventing, even dumbing down, karaoke pop music with a whole array of charisma-challenged individual celeb ‘stars’ and local hopefuls, and changing the face of pop culture forever. It could be said that so-called Super Groups, creative artists and bands of old have had their day with their magical performances; the whole concept now retro-transformed into one singer backed by lights and dancers – and loads of dollars for all. Whatever, it’s here to stay. However, although primarily a singing contest, it has to be said that there is also a variety of performing dogs, jugglers and comedians, with the usual pretentious child acts pushed onstage by forceful, hopeful and desperate parents.
So, what’s it like to be in a TV audience? What do Simon, Amanda, Alesha and David look like? And what about Ant and Dec? What are they like in real life?
‘AntonDec’ arrived by water taxi, to be faced by hysterical fans outside the theatre. What a miserable pair they were too. I’m not sure which is which but one had a face like thunder and the other managed to crack a bit of a smile and agreed to a few selfies, as security teams pushed their way through adoring crowds and on into the Lowry. All of us mere cattle were then made to wait for, as it happened, Amanda Holden and Alesha Dixon. Finally their Aston Martin rolled up and both women, tiny in stature, popped out. A chorus of screams and shouts serenaded them both, begging for the usual selfies. I found myself staring more at the over-rection of fans confronted by their heroes, than at these stars. They then made their way in through the theatre doors and presumably straight into dressing rooms where they would be sprayed with liquid porcelaine and wax. No idea where David Walliams and Simon Cowell were, but we were informed that they were running late. So we missed them close up.
We took our seats, and the warm-up comedian immediately began instructing us on how to react to the judges and the acts, to cheer very loud, never to boo, and stand up and clap enthusiastically. But mainly to whoop, whistle and yell, jump up and down, and laugh out loud, just to show our appreciation. On no account were we to sit in silence. Therefore, to make lots of hysterical noise at all times. To be honest it was all just so fake!
I think we saw ‘Antondec’ for maybe a minute. That was our lot. Simon turned around and adressed us occasionally, but mainly the four judges sat with their backs to us in silence. An act appeared, consisting of a team of little girls who danced around in perfect timing, and we all dutifully leapt up, clapped, whooped and cheered as the judges voted with their buzzers, leaving us to spend the next five minutes after the act had departed, reflecting on how boring it had really been. We then waited for ten minutes while teams of make-up staff titivated and preened the judges. Each individual celebrity hair was tweeked and prodded into place, and the stage was reset for the next act. This consisted of a none-too-skilled magician. Again the audience reacted as though they had just witnessed the second coming of Christ, but it really wasn’t. It was poor. And after every similarly monotonous act, the judges, with their backs to us, had their hair combed and patted, pouting lips glossed and doll-like faces powdered for 10 minutes. We sat in silence. The stage was reset by an army of stagehands, and on trooped another tedious and desperate act accompanied by rapturous applause. My clapping became mooted and the whole affair seemed somewhat disjointed. Half way through I could not be bothered to even stand up. But still the main body of the audience leapt up in raptures, like trained circus seals, doing just as they had been told to.
What were the audience like? My personal observation was that the vast majority were between seventeen and very early twenties. Anybody over thirty stood out like a sore thumb. Most wore clothing more suited to gardening, bought fake tan in bulk and enjoyed dining at Greggs. Most needed to purchase shampoo. Most were noisy, shouty, and had no self-awareness whatsoever.
Conclusion? TheLowry Theatre was amazing. The treatment of the audience by theatre staff before we took our seats was just excellent. The celebrity judges were OK but distant and aloof, and no personal interaction with the audience. All eight acts were average. It was an experience. It was just OK.
But mainly we, the audience, were used by the TV company. What appears on your television after the film has been edited and polished, is mostly fake (in case you didn’t already know). I’ve got to say that personally we were fully aware of that. Initially at least, we participated willingly in this fakery. Yet a good number of the audience seemed naivly oblivious, or maybe just desperate for the chance to appear for one millisecond on TV. All in all, the majority seemed to enjoy it.
So, be warned, the world of television and film is all smoked glass and mirrors created by highly-skilled technicians, and where the chosen few shamelessly make fortunes.
Did we enjoy it? In a nutshell, despite my whinges, yes. It was an experience that ticked a few of life’s boxes. Would I go again? Probably not, is the answer to that. And if you think that this is a slightly cynical and jaundiced review and not fair on Simon Cowell and friends, then you are probably between 18 and 25, watch Love Island or have £40,000000 in the bank.