This lame Fame danced around all the old stage school clichés with shameless unoriginality (blame the “creators”, Strictly Come Dancing’s Arlene Phillips and theatre impresario David Ian). It was lifted ccasionally by the songs written by Gary Barlow, but then fell back again with atrocious acting.
What was good about it?
• Mark Benton’s acting shone out. He was an unlikely choice as the principal of the brat-packed Britannia High but did well dishing out cruel-to-be-kind advice to the highly strung pupils.
• Gary Barlow’s songs were appealing in a High School Musical frothy sort of way. “This could be the start of something good” was how the opening number finished, which was ironic in light of what followed.
• There was one good joke – the mix-up between Simon Callow and Simon Cowell. (The duplicate joke, mixing up Cheryl Baker and Sheryl Crow, was a lot less funny).
• The promise of Girls Aloud in episode two.
What was bad about it?
• Maybe the actors were hampered by the stereotype straitjackets they were forced into – eg Claudine the bitch, DD the ultra-urban black guy, Jez the fey blonde dancer, Lola the forgettable one, Lauren the outsider who starves herself to get thinner – but none of them really impressed, not even Mitch Hewer, one of our Skins favourites, as Danny the goodie who is the first to welcome the outsider. But then he did have to deliver lines such as “You can do what you wanna do, be who you wanna be.”
• Mitch Hewer’s hair. It was bad in Skins but is worse here.
• There’s nothing new on offer. Britannia High is like a bad cover version of last year’s E4 series Nearly Famous, CBBC offerings I Dream and The Biz, or the classic Fame.
• It’s not meant to be weighty, but surely Britannia High didn’t have to be quite so airy. Do script editors no longer exist?
• “You’re right. I take it all back. She’s amazing.” One of the many terrible cheesy lines we had to suffer.
• “The audience were so full of joy. I thought: that’s what I want to do, make people happy.” That’s another – a reference, rather amazingly, to an S Club 7 concert.
• “Don’t be a wannabe, be who you want to be.” That’s another.
• The promise of a goodie goes bad storyline in episode two.
• The dud dubbing in several scenes.