Watching the new judges – Michael McIntyre and student union favourite David Hasselhoff – posing alongside Amanda Holden in the obligatory arms-crossed-smoke-billowing pose at the start of Britain’s Got Talent seems like a mad parody of the real thing (by which we mean Simon Cowell).
The first auditionee is Mary, pictured reading a book on The Queen(‘s) Mother. She thinks Amanda Holden is Joanna Lumley, recognises Hasselhoff, and has no idea who McIntyre is. Oh good: a lunatic. Her act is tunelessly breathing into a mouthorgan while punching her own wellies. Hysterical stuff so far.
A middle-aged cowboy camps about with a lasso. Mo Mowlam does some terrible observational humour, which gets buzzed off pretty quickly – but not before McIntyre makes notes for his next tour.
These shows are edited in exactly the same way: a bunch of people with serious mental difficulties are paraded out to make fools of themselves, the judges look like they want to slit their own wrists on the desk, then someone blows them away.
A nine-year-old comedian absolutely destroys McIntyre, doing the “listing his favourite comedians without mentioning the comedian in front of him” thing, and acting hurt when the Mac fights back. His jokes are poor, but his delivery is ace, and he makes it through to the next round. Woo, yay.
Generic Dance Troupe #245 are swiftly evicted, while another lunatic sings a bestialic cover of Katy Perry. A man painted gold sings Gold, but isn’t golden. Ugh, that was terrible. Sorry. He’s booed off, and won’t even talk to Ant and Dec after. The cameraman, of all people, cracks a joke about him being “precious”, and swiftly wins the show.
Donelda – and if there was ever a name that indicated a father’s disappointment at not having a son, it’s that – dances with her dogs, in a routine that’s better choreographed than a Britney Spears tour. A standing ovation for a couple of border collies is just weird.
There’s a real emphasis on the terrible acts tonight; a guy painted blue pretends to be a dolphin; two tuneless kids murder Bruno Mars; some sodding morris dancers; two chubby folk doing a workout. A depressing parade of the under-employed, under-brained and under-amusing.A middle-aged BT engineer (optimistically billing himself as 53) with seemingly no wit or charm dances to clips of everything from the Macarena to What a Feeling. Somehow, just somehow, it works. And it’s bloody funny. Really, unexpectedly funny.
Inexplicably, a massive guy who can pop his eyes out of his head like a Warner Brothers cartoon, also makes it through. That’ll be great in the second round, when he, er, does it again.
We’re not really shown much of the acts, so it’s difficult to tell why Generic Dance Troupes #593 and #954 are buzzed off, while #522 make it through.
Guitarist Michael from Plymouth informs the world that him and his girlfriend don’t bother with condoms, and then sings Tracy Chapman with actual, real talent.
A couple who look like they live in a crypt and you’d cross the road to avoid, play that song, you know, the one from Titanic on a series of hand bells, while the audience do their best to put them off by accidentally singing the wrong bit.
And that’s show one. The judges are hopefully just finding their feet, because the dynamic of three awkwardly nice people in a row doesn’t work. While there’s whinging when Simon Cowell destroys the hopes and dreams of a shy 15 year old singer, it’s more entertaining than Michael almost in tears apologising for not putting her through.
As always, there’s a focus on the weird, wacky and otherwise hateable element, so when someone is genuinely entertaining, it’s comparatively wonderful. Almost like finding a raisin in a dog-turd.