Act-by-act: the verdict on the variety
Pussy Cat Dolls: probably caused some tumescence in the royal box with their slutty attire; but could hardly sing a bloody note – even when they were miming. Appalling opening.
Michael McIntyre: we hate his priggish persona but like his material – with the male-only realm of the loft the highlighty of this routine.
The Lion King: spectacular; probably worth going to see live – for those who can endure Elton John mawkishness
Naturally Seven: overlong making-noises-with-mouths act.
Matthew Horne and James Corden: very laboured I-love-you act; probably a bit homophobic but we can’t be bothered to get worked up.
Duffy: polished; nicely staged (X Factor’s Brian Friedman could learn lessons from this on how not to wreck songs with ludicrous routines)
Brian May (from Queen) and Kerry Ellis (from Wicked): the first rock opera horror of the night. Terrible racket.
Rhod Gilbert: mixed views about the shouting Welsh comic – pretending Prince Charles had moved on to his council estate was embarrassing and uncomfortable; the difficulties of learning Welsh (26 people died) was inventive and very funny.
George Sampson: The Britain’s Got Talent prize performance saw the teenage dancer totally swamped by his backing dancers so it was hard to see if he was any good in a haywire routine which crammed in far too much (including the kicking-in of a Tube train window – what sort of example is that!). A disappointment.
Rhianna: has no charisma at all and looked horrible with her hair up.
Jimmy Tarbuck: deserved to appear for being one of the few old-school comics still alive but he struggled through his ancient material (“Sex is great at 60. I live at 59”)
Cliff Richard and The Shadows: oh my god, some zombies have invaded the stage singing The Young Ones (with no shame or irony), Willie and the Handjive (ghastly) and Move It (zimmer remix). Tarnished any reputation Cliff has left.
Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo: ballet in drag which dragged.
Jersey Boys: seemed like they were miming. Didn’t come close to convincing us to fork out for the West End tribute to the Four Seasons, but were miles better than Cliff and co.
John Barrowman: if he’d come on, waved his wang about and gone off, we might have appreciated his inclusion. As it was, old sparkly bollocks sang a boring ballad (written by Gary Barlow)
Leona Lewis: a near-perfect rendition of Run. Highlight of the night so far despite her overegging the pudding as usual.
Armstrong and Miller: the comedy act of the night with their routine as World War Two soldiers speaking street slang: “You know all those bullets that was fired up at us…” “Is it that they has invaded and all that” “I never done French. I done media studies.” Nice to see John Simm making a cameo as a French resistance agent.
Zorro: the worst musical extract of the night. It’s shocking to think that people pay to see this – and annoying that cheesy musicals like this have crowded real plays out of the West End
Jimmy Carr: sleepwalked his way through his droll one-liners (“When the Iraq war started, little did George Bush know…” “I’ve for a friend whose nickname is Shagger. You might think it’s cool but she doesn’t like it”) Heard them all before.
Josh Groban: we loved his recent Never Mind the Buzzcocks performance when he displayed a great personality which he failed to replicate here as he churned out some awful dirge from Chess with backing from Last Choir Standing winners Only Men Allowed.
Geraldine McQueen (aka Peter Kay): the stand-out act of the night, sending up coy half-assed talent show singers with the highlights of her repertoire, including an anxious Born To Run performed on a juddering motorbike. The joke has run its course now, though; Kay doesn’t need a Tony Ferrino on his hands.
Take That: polished, joyous stuff. Their comeback has been one of the good things about 2008. And we’re loving Mark’s new tidy hairstyle.
La Cages Aux Folles: Douglas Hodge was amazing as the washed-up crone; Graham Norton was one of the night’s less convincing trannies.
The magicians, the ventriloquists, the acrobats, the paper tearers: Oh there weren’t any and they call this variety.