Monday, May 25, 2009

How Britain's Got Talent really works

Yesterday I questioned whether Susan Boyle is quite the unknown that Britain's Got Talent makes her out to be.

Craig Murray, writing of the experiences of a family friend who has been a contestant in the current series, gives us an insight into how the programme works:

Nadira and I spoke with Julia Nadienko this afternoon before her performance tonight in the semi-final of Britain's Got Talent, and she had been crying. She said they were forcing her to dance to music that was totally unsuitable, and not allowing her choreography.

Interestingly, she said that the same thing had happened at the first round televised audition. She had taken with her a CD of Arabic drum music to do a traditional belly dance, but had not been allowed to do it, and instead told to dance to Shakira and with a more pop choreography.

That contradicts the whole carefully presented image of the show, of which the story line is that at the auditions the acts just turn up and nobody knows what exactly they are going to do.

That image of spontaneity was manifest most spectacularly in the case of Susan Boyle, where the video made famous on You Tube pretends that the judges did not even know she was a singer or whether she would be any good. The judges then proceeded to manifest what, when you know the truth, you can see is terribly ham acted astonishment.

In fact, just as Julia had her music and choreography altered before her audition, the show would have already seen Susan Boyle, have known exactly what Susan Boyle was going to do, how good she was, and had quite probably chosen the song for her. I bet even the clunking jaw dropping of the judges was rehearsed.

The "Susan Boyle moment" was a brilliantly produced fake.

Yes, she is a good singer but, as I have often argued, nothing on television is what it seems.

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Anonymous said...

There's nothing real about reality TV.

Matthew Huntbach said...

Indeed, yours was a good reminder.

All these talent shows etc work by thousands upon thousands applying, and only a tiny few of them getting as far as being part of the televised contest.

So, of course, there's been a whole process where Susan Boyle was put forward as an applicant by people who knew of her abilities, and was heard singing by people responsible for this programme who thought "this would make good television, bring her forward".

It may be that other people do the initial assessment and the judges on the televised part are left in the dark. I don't watch the programme (or any other television come to that), so I couldn't give my own opinion on that.

But given that the moving television has replaced religion as the source of myths to fill the imagination and national guidance on how we should live, it is perhaps only fair that the tricks of the priesthood who run it should be made open.

Franziska said...

Thank you for this. I was wondering if I am the only one who thinks this talent show is totally fabricated. I must admit that they do a good job at it - but still. Just another indication what humanity is craving for so badly: authenticity, seeing average people transform into god-like figures before our eyes. For this, we are willing to buy into anything. Bless Susan Boyle. I hope she can handle this boost for her own good.

Nich Starling said...

Actually I think I posted something about this last year too (can't find the link now).

My friends suster was in a percussion group called "Bang On" and they were told to change their act by the producers to drum to a piece of music. They didn't wat to but did so after coming udner some pressure to do so. The result ? Three "x"'s and the judges complained about the music that the producers told them to add !