For a while this week I suspected Britain’s Got Talent had blown all the meaty contestants in last Saturday’s uplifting, Voice-aping success-athon. Admittedly, it started well with the Zimmers, a gang of cheeky Cockney terrapins in anoraks who, led by 88-year-old Grace, bellowed a cover of (You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!) that was both entertaining and a terrifying glimpse of Ageing Britain’s dystopian, thug-pensioner future.
After that, though, mediocrity set in. Four Corners were a decent enough dance troupe who were a bit too reliant on the gimmick of only having one female member, and on most other dance troupes being awful. A man did that thing with the big hoop where you get in it while it spins. A woman played the violin while tossing her hair about and squatting provocatively. Dull.
Halfway in, BGT was falling back on the talent not of Britain, but of David Walliams. The montage of moments where Walliams taunted, silenced or mocked Simon Cowell was genuinely hilarious. Once again you had to ask: Walliams is naturally funny. How does he manage to expunge this so thoroughly from his own TV shows?
Anyway, BGT was just pacing itself. The big finish began with nervous Chelsea Redfern, who naused up the start of the Ruth Lorenzo classic Purple Rain, but then triumphantly hammered all the big notes, then cried.
“I love how shy and sweet you are and then this powerful voice comes out,” said Alesha Dixon, sounding spookily like Gregg Wallace describing a gooey pudding. I’ve not noticed the similarity before but… have a listen next week. Enthusiasm with a hint of bluffing.
Backstage, Manchester plasterer Zipparah Tafari was frightening the young woman in the seat next to him. “You can’t keep Mr Zip in the house!” he said, sounding like a disgraced but defiant children’s entertainer in a police interview.
In front of the judges, though, Zippy was perfect. Referring to himself in the third person (“Zipparah Tafari is 49!”) and suddenly shouting “Let’s get on with it!” after his performance had been delayed by his own rambling were just the warm-up for his instant novelty-ragga classic, Where Me Keys (Where Me Phone).
“Have ya ever been in dat situaaaay-shun where ya lost ya keys and ya mooo-bile? Where me keys? Where me phone?” rapped Zippy – totally deadpan and serious because, as he explained afterwards, losing one’s keys and phone is annoying.
Zippy’s written a hit: no less than a Who Let the Dogs Out? for the 2010s. “Where me keys? Where me phone?” sang the whole audience – and #wheremekeys was trending for a good hour on Twitter, so the guy in the BGT team who suggested flashing up captions this year, patronisingly telling us which hashtags to use, might not be fired after all. (“Hashtag Britain’s Got Talent,” said the continuity announcer, trendily. “Now, where are my keys?”)
Closing the show were 16-year-old Ashleigh Butler and her dog Pudsey. She wore a one-shouldered leopard-print micro; Pudsey went nude but should, as Simon Cowell observed, have also been in costume as they danced to the Flintstones theme. Pudsey didn’t run off or defecate on the stage, which put him in the top 1% of dog acts immediately. More than that, he followed Ashleigh’s routine perfectly, including long periods where he had to stand upright and walk like a small, shaggy human.
Pudsey had the air of a born superstar. He could be two performances and a fake-fur onesie away from true grrrreatness.