Review: Britain’s Got Talent

RAYMOND LI picks out the best and worst of Britain’s Got Talent.

After Eight Britain's Got Talent Celine Dion Daily Mail Dancing With The Stars James Boyd Pop Idol Royal Variety Show Simon Cowell susan boyle X Factor

Britain has become the biggest drug dealer in talent shows. Pop Idol, X Factor and Dancing with the Stars have been gobbled up by eager audiences across the globe, hungry for that reality TV fix.  Admittedly I developed a naïve fascination with ITV’s Popstars, when the whole rags-to-riches pop story had that fairy tale quality; ordinary people coming out with angel voices and then getting that Christmas number one. Now the sob stories have become big money-makers and have not only dominated the charts but the whole world. 

Britain’s Got Talent is one guilty pleasure that I will defend against all critics. It has become an institution and a tradition for the annual Royal Variety Show. The show has a brilliant set-up, uncovering talent that would normally never make to the screen. Its format is simple: you don’t have to be the next Whitney or the next Celine Dion to make it. Anyone with entertaining act will do. And that talent can be anything. Dog acts, beatboxers and drag queens have all graced the stage before the three judges and the merciless audience.

Lately, talent shows have been dominated by singing competitions. Whilst some have reached the heights of global fame, the British public seem inundated with singers who annoyingly try to sing a phrase in twenty notes. But, Britain’s Got Talent has a brilliant set-up, uncovering talent that would normally never make to the screen. 

2010's acts show promise although there has not been a Subo sensation so far. This series has featured a dog doing ballet, a leprechaun act and a robotic popper dressed as the Joker. The recent episode featured the Chippendoubles, which Simon Cowell has hailed as one of his favourites. They’re not what you think.


Then, there are those that are just bizarre but somehow you just cannot stop watching – like watching a car crash, you feel repelled but also drawn in.

So far, judges have seen a man risking life imprisonment by slicing cucumbers carried by his assistant while blindfolded. There’s also the man who calls himself the “regurgitator”. I won’t gore you with the details but a snooker ball is used alongside a warning from Dec: please don’t try this at home.


No talent show can be complete without the deluded contestants humiliating themselves and this year does not disappoint. If you thought being naked in front of a crowd was your biggest nightmare then for builder Jeff it was a dream to do this in front of the Royal family. He skips around naked with only thong and an elephant’s head to cover up his privates.

James Boyd failed to break the world record of swallowing as many After Eight mints in one minute without using his hands. Ironically he was beaten by Dec off-stage. Another sob story comes from a woman who actually says: “I’m going to mime to Meatloaf.” Why Meatloaf of all people? “Because he’s the only who fits my size.” Get the loo roll out and weep. 


Some may accuse the producers of exploiting the contestants, conjuring rags-to-riches tales when there is no genuine sob-story to be told. There were allegations from the Daily Mail claiming that the producers were exploiting Susan Boyle despite signs of stress-related mental problems. However, after having the fastest selling album in British history, Boyle shows no sign of breaking down. Sob stories are a vital part of the talent shows and the Daily Mail creates those stories everyday anyway. 

No Subo superstars yet but for the moment this show is probably the best guilty pleasure all term.