Let It Shine: Why is Gary Barlow putting together a manband rather than a boyband?

The auditionees are shaping up to be more Spandau than 5SOS on the BBC1 talent show

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Right from the get go, Gary Barlow was clear on his mission for Let It Shine.

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Speaking at the press launch for the shiny new BBC1 programme, he proclaimed: “The one thing we were asking people to bring in the auditions is the 1992 version of [Take That].

“And what I mean by that is it’s not looking like us or having the same names as us, but having the energy. Everything’s new, you’re wide-eyed, you’re leaping about the stage, it’s all fantastic and amazing. That’s the version of us I wanted on stage.”

It sounds like a great idea. A spritely, springy gaggle of five teenage lads that are thrown together to channel early era TT. So why is it that so many of the best auditionees getting through to the second round of Let It Shine are closer to their pensions than puberty?

The odd talented teen is advancing beyond the auditions in front of Barlow, Dannii Minogue, Martin Kemp and Amber Riley such as Nicky Price (17) or Deaglan Arthurs (18).

It’s just that with the audition process open to professionals as well as amateurs (at Barlow’s insistence) the majority of incredible, knock-your-socks-off singers and performers are established West End theatre artists who are far older, such as 30-year-olds as Jason Brock and Matt Thorpe. And, to be ageist for a second, that just feels a bit old for that “wide-eyed” aura that Barlow said he was after.

When Take That were thrown together in the early 90s, Robbie Williams was a tender 16 years old, then-bank employee Mark Owen was 18 and Howard Donald seemed positively doddery at 22. 

By the time Robbie was 30 years old, he had done seven tours, released six albums and won numerous BRITs, Ivor Novellos and was even named Smash Hits’ Best Male Solo Star.

If the more mature contestants continue to easily out-shine their younger competitors, it looks like Gary Barlow will have a manband on his hands at the end of Let It Shine.

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Let It Shine airs Saturdays at 7pm on BBC1.