When Will I Be Famous? BBC1

by | Feb 3, 2007 | All, Reviews

Did we like it?

Variety is not dead, we often hear. It’s the spice of life, some insist. It’s a waste of two hours on a precious Saturday night, we reckon, after watching Graham Norton’s tedious talent show. And if variety is not dead, please lend us a gun to finish it off good and proper.

What was good about it?

• A star is born. Not any of the acts who had honed their admirable skills to perfection yet were still uniformly dull. But Chuck Harris, the nutty American judge with comedy specs, a mouth like a Muppet and bundles of “I’m gonna make you a star” bravado.

• Graham Norton was a professional host. Okay, he lied when he promised us “world class acts” and he milked the joke about being “as nervous as Jade Goody in an Indian restaurant”, but he tried his best to make the programme entertaining and slick.

• The armchair judges shown live in their own homes was a good idea for those of us sofa addicts who can’t get enough settees-faction from the DFS ads on ITV alone.

• Only one act really captured our attention. Well done, greased up Bruce Airhead. But we wouldn’t want to see you climbing into and out of a balloon more than once, thanks all the same.

• The best entertainment came from Graham’s Side Show, a segment featuring the failed auditionees, which showed that mental illness is alive and well throughout the land. (Have all the straitjacket manufacturers closed down?) Some of the freaks got a few seconds in the spotlight on stage – and were far more entertaining than the real contestants. We loved Sister Mary (a hairy man dressed as a nun struggling to remember the words of Memory) and the dancing dwarf and we even had a certain amount of slack-jawed admiration for the woman whose rendition of Celine’s My Heart Will Go On was interspersed with barking.

What was bad about it?

• While judge Chuck Harris delivered frank verdicts, good and bad, we didn’t take to his colleagues on the grey-haired judging panel (“three Alpine peaks,” according to Norton). Dave Spikey was too bland, while Max Clifford mumbled and stumbled and never said anything of wit or originality. He even claimed that Rod Hull was a ventriloquist. Maybe we were deaf all those years ago, but we don’t remember Emu ever speaking. Clifford should get back to his day job (purveying sleaze to the popular press).

• Pitting two acts against each other in a thrilling knockout format was pointless as we were forced to judge chalk and cheese each time, rather than two peas from the same pod.

• The acts – a ventriloquist with great technique but no gags, a Scouse lad who screeched Jacko’s I’ll Be There with far too much emotion for a child of 11, a pickpocket, an urban dance troupe, a bike trickster, an acrobat, the balloon man and, worst of all, the winner – a woman who “danced” with her dog. The viewers have only gone and voted her back next week. What were they thinking? Bloody nation of animal lovers!!!

• Brian Conley’s BBC2 daytime talent show last year was fun (sort of) because it didn’t take itself seriously. But this programme did and suffered as a result. If it had been carried off with irony and a nod to naff nostalgia with Jonathan Ross as host, it may have been a winner.

• They didn’t use the Bros pop classic as the theme tune.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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