Britain’s Got Talent worked hard this week to distinguish itself from The Voice. There were really only seven acts in it, plus a lot of light-hearted filler, whereas The Voice has 40 acts and lasts for five hours. Watching Britain’s Got Talent after The Voice, it increasingly feels like what it always was, only we got carried away and forgot: cheap, silly, 1970s fun.
First we saw Lauren Thalia, a well-spoken 12-year-old who accompanied herself on acoustic guitar but, just as the crowd steeled themselves for Frere Jacques or something from The Mikado, whipped out the Cher Lloyd audition-surprise classic Turn My Swag On.
It was slightly in the style of Frere Jacques or something from The Mikado, but if any programme should be giving us posh pre-pubescents singing a fourth-hand copy of a copy of a song from another talent show, it’s BGT. Lauren progressed merrily to the next stage, where hopefully she won’t have a crack at S&M by Rihanna, or something by Azealia Banks. That would be too much.
Cascade were a French stunt troupe, following last week’s acrobatic Hungarian basketball cheats, Face Team. Now, some of my best friends are French but really, the show does have "Britain" in the title. It’s supposed to have a limited remit. Anyway, Cascade did some kung fu fighting and somersaults but mainly took their shirts off. Alesha Dixon and Amanda Holden were very excited, Simon Cowell less so.
Then we were on the dashboard of the Loveable Rogues, enjoying one of those totally impromptu intros where we follow the act before they audition. These three scamps drove round and round a roundabout before finally arriving to sing their own composition, a cheeky Cockney number that mentioned a lot of brand names and was somewhere between Madness, Lily Allen, Kate Nash and a commercial break.
Montage time: people being nervous, including a man who had had a special embroidered jacket made, but only got through two lines of his a cappella moo through Toxic by Britney Spears before he gave up and walked off without waiting for the buzzers. Such a tragedy: there are so few occasions on which that jacket will work, going forward.
This was the build-up to Marea Smithson, a secretary in the radiology department of a hospital who had come in her work clothes and described herself as “quiet”, talking about this in the same way people usually discuss a massive bereavement, or not having any legs. “It can stop you doing a lot of things,” she said, movingly.
Marea did impressions and, following all the emphasis on how apprehensive she was, surprised nobody at all by knocking it out of the park. Her Ann Widdecombe was excellent, her version of someone off Coronation Street (I dunno who, I don’t watch it) was absolutely uncanny, and her Anne Robinson bookended the routine nicely. At one point she made a gag about lower prizes on Weakest Link “post-BBC cuts”, but if she can iron out this sort of hi-falutin’ classical language she could be in the top ten come the final.
Kai and Natalia were an excellent ballroom dancing couple: sexy and professional. They looked deadly serious and ready for a pro career, so it was no surprise to learn that Natalia had relocated from Cyprus to become Kai’s partner, and that she’d beaten 11 other women for the job at auditions Kai had organised.
Downright weird, however, watching Kai toss Natalia in all directions in a suitably virile and mature manner, was the knowledge that Kai was 16, Natalia was 15, and they weren’t a couple but were living together with Kai’s mum. There was something freaky going on here that may have global medical implications and really should have been fully investigated. As it is, if Kai is 16, I am Richard Briers.
The night’s second montage concerned cruddy dance troupes: the one that presumably wasn’t meant to be cruddy, because their name came up and we saw the whole routine, was Karizma Krew. They had union-jack coats on and unfurled a large union jack with their name on at the end. Apart from this being technically illegal under the 2006 London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act, it was cheesy and boring, and that’s without mentioning the bit where they hilariously danced to the theme from Only Fools and Horses.
Finally there was Chica Latina, from Colombia. She flirted with Simon Cowell before singing River Deep, Mountain High very much in the style of Margarita Pracatan. I realise I compared someone else to Margarita the other week but, had I known Chica was looming, I wouldn’t have because that looks plain silly now.
A few 360-degree shimmies in her groaning silver dress and Chica Latina was through, entertainment having long since elbowed talent off the stage.