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Sunday, 25 March 2012

The Biggest Saturday Night in years: The Voice and Britain's Got Talent

BBC One's The Voice averaged 8.43m  peaking with 9.6m (42.3%) at 7.45pm Britain's Got Talent kicked off its sixth series with 9.43m (39.2%) from 8pm, adding 567k (2.5%) on ITV1 +1


After weeks of hype and sniping back and forth from both casts The Voice and Britain’s Got Talent both debuted to huge audiences on a warm Saturday night. The Voice was big, new and shiny and slick and I was surprised by some elements of it. Firstly Will I AM has a good sense of humour. Who knew that lurked behind those bizarre glasses? Secondly that the chemistry between the four in those swivel chairs seems genuine and not just for the sake of reality rivalry. The opening episode did a good job of explaining the idea of the show and showed some real and interesting talent. I fear though that it could get a bit repetitive and near the end I will admit to glancing up at the clock to see how much was left.  I enjoyed it though and will certainly be sticking with it and want to congratulate the producers as they have managed to break the reality curse that has hung over  the BBC since the days of Fame Academy. Interestingly though The Voice featured a lot of reality show clichés which the minds behind the opening of ITV1’s Britain’s Got Talent stayed away from this year. Within minuets of the blind auditions starting we were presented with our first “sob story” about a girl who has turned to her guitar to help her deal with bullying. Luckily though her rendition of Price Tag was good enough  for me to look past that. The sob story has become synonymous with the talent show of course but the problem with that is the fact that it  so expected now that I’ve become numb. I must have a heart of stone. It doesn't matter how tragic the story I’m immune to it. “My name is David, I have days to live, I lost my entire family when they were unexpectedly eaten by a pack of wolves and on the way to my audition today my dog was run over by an old aged pensioner driving a stretched limo”. They wash over me. This side of The Voice niggled me slightly just because it didn’t need it. The show is about The Voice after all and none of that background information should matter. Nor was I moved by the pleas of passion from each singer as they stood in tears, like I say I must have a heart of stone.
All that being said I thoroughly enjoyed the first episode and The Voice feels contemporary and the coaches make for interesting viewing. Its perfect Saturday entertainment and that’s been lacking on BBC1 for a good few years.

If like me you watched Britain’s Got Talent too then it may have struck you (as it did me) the efforts that the minds behind went to too steer away from the fanfare and clichés that defined the show in previous series. There wasn’t the usual hyped introduction to the judges looking glamorous and walking in slow motion toward the camera. This was replaced by a nice cheeky opening that saw Ant & Dec (they can do now wrong) miming to Queen. There was no pre-interview with Simon Cowell promising the best talent ever this year or telling us what he was expecting this year with dramatic music playing in the background. No. All that had vanished. Instead we were treated to something that felt really different and interesting. It felt “stripped back” and less in your face and I think it worked much better with this more genuine feel. It wasn't even heavy in Voiceover from Ant & Dec who were brilliant as usual in their role in the wings. It really felt like they’d toned it down and it made for a more enjoyable opener because of it. The new judging panel seemed to gel well though I would’ve loved to have Michael McIntyre back. McIntyre and Walliams would have made for great viewing together I’m sure. For all the berating he gets (I was guilty of this too in articles before the show started) it was nice to have Simon Cowell back on the panel and the “bromance” between David Walliams and Simon Cowell made laugh a lot. I didn’t care for the inclusion of Carmen Electra. I’m sure someone else would’ve jumped at the chance to appear on the show instead flying someone with about as much talent as a tapeworm to judge the acts. I didn’t expect to but I think looking back I enjoyed Britian’s got Talent more. For once it felt Britain’s Got Talent took itself less seriously and showed with the scaling back of all the music and dramatics we’ve become so over familiar with and I really appreciated that.  The highlights included Dennis in his golden suit and Barbara reading her poetry and Sam Kelly’s performance. As it happens they are were two different shows and as one twitter follower pointed out there’s room for the both with them without any squabbling or debate.

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