Martin Kemp says there’s going to be “no more Mr Nice Guy” as Let It Shine goes live

Ahead of the BBC1 show's first live episode, the judge reflects on how much he's enjoying the show and why he won't be drawn on the ratings battle

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Let It Shine judge Martin Kemp has said there’s going to be “no more Mr Nice Guy” as the BBC1 show goes live.

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The Spandau Ballet star tells RadioTimes.com in an exclusive chat that he is getting more critical now that the end is in sight to find five boys for Gary Barlow’s touring theatre production based on the music of Take That.

“As the weeks go by you get to know the boys,” he says. “The first couple of weeks it was quite easy to say ‘You’re in, you’re out’ because there was no real connection there.

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“But by now we’re at week six. I know most of those boys and it’s really hard to say ‘You’ve got to move on – you’re not going to get through to the next round.’”

Kemp admitted that he had sometimes been quite generous with the marks out of five that he awarded to the boys in the initial audition stages.

“In your first audition you’re racked with nerves and these boys are no different to anyone else,” he explains to us as he takes a break during rehearsals for Saturday’s live show. “And if I could get some of the boys through to the second round then that’s when you expect them to step up to the mark and to give them a second chance.

“But where we’re sitting now, today is really like no more Mr Nice Guy. You either have it or don’t have it. Bring it to the table – if you don’t bring it to the table then really by now that means you haven’t got it… You want to see a finished performance and that’s what we’re looking for now.”

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The battle is also growing more intense between Let It Shine on the BBC and The Voice UK on ITV. The overnight ratings show that whilst The Voice UK, which is airing on ITV for the first time since being poached from the BBC, is largely holding its viewership, Let It Shine has dropped from an initial 6.25 million viewers for episode one to 4.67 million for the fifth episode.

“Listen, ratings are something that I really don’t want to talk about because I don’t think about it,” he says. “All I do is I get on and I do the best job I can do, and the show does the best job it can do and the minute you start thinking about you’re in competition with someone, that’s when I think everything falls apart.

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“I think you just get on and you do the best you can do and hopefully make a show that everybody’s enjoying.”

He also praised the show as an “amazing platform” for the singers and performers that offers more than other similar TV talent shows.

“It’s not just giving them one or two shots at releasing a record and seeing if it sticks,” he said. “It gives them a job for six months, nine months, maybe a year. And that kind of platform is invaluable.”

Being asked to be a permanent judge alongside Gary Barlow and Dannii Minogue “came out of the blue” and it wasn’t something the 55-year-old ever saw himself doing.

But Kemp admits he is “really surprised” how much he is relishing being a part of the programme – so much so that he’d be up for judging a second series if the show were to come back for a similar talent search. “I would love for it to happen again because I’ve enjoyed myself so much doing this,” he smiles.

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Let It Shine airs at 6.55pm on Saturday January 11 on BBC1, with the results show following at 8.45pm.