Competition Time – Britain’s Got Talent (ITV); Can’t Touch This (BBC1); Drive (ITV)
There is nothing like a good competition on TV to get the juices going. (I have no idea which juices these are, or why for that matter it is good to get them going. I would ask my GP; but I think she may think I am wasting her time.) If X Factor is the King of the talent shows then Britain’s Got Talent (BGT) is the Queen with The Voice as a lowly Knave. What makes I different is that; a) you get to perform at the Royal Variety Performance(which is still a big deal apparently) and b) they are not all singers. Saying that, the first act to win 10 years ago (Paul Potts) was a singer and the show brought Susan Boyle to the limelight (watch her audition here. It’s actually worth it just to see how high the eyebrows of the judges can go on their heads). But it has also given us Diversity (demonstrating that street dance is basically gymnastics but without needing to wear leotards), magicians, comedians and dog acts , 2 of which went on to win (well 3 if you include Matisse’s stand in). It really is a variety performance (oh I see the connection with the Royal Variety Performance now. Clever).
The first show of the tenth series started with Simon, Amanda, Aleisha and David driving around in Union Jack minis to the theatre. There is banter…a lot of banter actually. In fact banter is the main ingredient of BGT. We observed the lack of singing on The Voice in our review the other week, well the same goes for BGT. Over the 90 mins we only actually saw 13 acts. The formula was still the same. We had:
– The act that is so bad that it’s good (Vitaly Voronko)
– The act that is so bad that it’s bad (Peter K Rollins)
– The one that you think is going to be rubbish but is fantastic (The Collaborative Orchestra)
– The unassuming singer who is amazing (known as “doing a Boyle”. In this case it was Beau Dermott)
– The one that you have to watch between your fingers (Alex Magala)
I loved the staging of The Collaborative Orchestra with them popping up all over the theatre, but where do they go from there? Pop up from under the judges’ desk? After week 1 though the winner is going to be Beau Dermott (although BGT has a history of making little girl singers cry, so watch out Beau). The crazy Moldovian with the sword will probably be too dangerous for the British stomach because of the fear that that sword will actually unintentionally appear out of his stomach live on TV.
BBC 1’s latest Saturday night offering is Can’t Touch This. Unfortunately there is a lack of MC Hammer and his baggy pants; but a lot of foam, water and jumping. Basically it’s an indoor version of Total Wipeout meets Gladiators meets Ninja Warrior. So this is it in a nutshell: contestants (lots of them) complete an obstacle course (like on Total Wipeout) and the fastest 6 go through to round 2 where they are spun around (like on Total Wipeout) and then eliminated to 3 and then 1. Along the way they have to touch targets which may (or may not) win them prizes. (Any competition where a pan set is still deemed a prize worth risking your neck for has got its problems.) Then the final contestant has to run up a travelator (stolen from Gladiators) and jump (again) for the prizes. After all that, they get the opportunity to launch themselves head long off a diving board at a Hyundai and if any part of their body touches it, they win it. Simple really.
Zoe Ball presents it along with Ashley Banjo, who considering he is from the aforementioned Diversity did very little jumping, even though he is probably the most qualified. The format of the show is as sound as any Saturday teatime game show but lacks the weather of Total Wipeout or the audience of Gladiators. It appears to be filmed in a hanger in Northern Ireland so has all the atmosphere that those surroundings offer. The contestants bounce around the course with comedy sound effects (like….you guessed it, Total Wipeout) and over half the programme is spent watching the plethora of contestants tackling round 1. The saving grace of the programme is the commentary by Sue Perkins, which is worth watching the programme for alone.
The commentary on Driveon the other hand is just a bit dull. Actually, no, that’s not fair. The commentator is desperately trying to get us to care about celebrities driving a whole range of vehicles in a knockout competition. It’s a bit like The Getaway Car meets Splashbut without the acidic tongue of Jo Brand or Tom Daly’s Speedos. We are two weeks in now and have discovered: Laura Tobin is very competitive; Johnny Vegas could be the dark horse; Louis Walsh really shouldn’t have entered the competition. Still, rumour has it that he is heading back to X Factor in the autumn so he may once again get behind the desk of the most important talent show in the UK. Please just don’t let him get behind the wheel of a car again. For all our sakes.
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