All Together Now review: “Saturday night TV has entered the terrifying realm of forced fun”

Rob Beckett and Geri Horner are fronting the latest take on the singing show. Yay, come on - join in, says Frances Taylor

Programme Name: All Together Now - TX: 27/01/2018 - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: L-R, Presenter Rob Beckett with Geri Horner, and the 100. Rob Beckett, Geri Horner - (C) Endemol - Photographer: Ray Burmiston (foreground) & Matt Squire (background)

Television needs more singing competitions like Ant and Dec need more NTAs.

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But here we are again, on BBC1 with All Together Now – a show where 100 judges from the world of music show their appreciation of their favourite contestants by getting up, dancing and singing along with them.

Or, as host Rob Beckett put it, it’s the show “where getting everybody joining in could win you £50,000 – because from Cup Finals to concerts, there’s nothing better than singing along.”

Yes, people, we’ve entered the terrifying realm of forced fun.

Having four TV judges saying ‘I really enjoyed that performance’ no longer cuts it. You now have to have 100 of them hitting their buttons (if they likey they have to lighty) before physically singing and dancing to indicate their enjoyment.

And if you think that sounds a bit annoying for both viewer and judge… well, it is.

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 23/01/2018 - Programme Name: All Together Now - TX: 27/01/2018 - Episode: n/a (No. 1) - Picture Shows: The 100, with Geri. - (C) EndemolShine - Photographer: Matt Squire

So who are The 100?. Well firstly they’re not to be confused with The 100 – the US drama that aired on Channel 4 about a group of people stranded on a post-apocalyptic earth.

Although given the choice, it would arguably be less of a pain having to deal with the fallout from a devastating nuclear apocalypse than have to sit next to the likes of ‘Mr Fabulous’, a ‘Medieval Banquet Singer’ called Nigel or grumpy git Paulus for six whole weeks on the trot.

Because obviously many of these assembled bunch of singers, performers and vocal coaches are the embodiment of ‘I’m mad, me’ – the sort that are brought in by producers to bring ‘buzz’, ‘energy’ and, worst of all, ‘top banter’ to shows like this.

And while some have sold more than 85 million records around the world (Geri Horner), some are famous for doing parody videos called Mans Got Floss by Big Plaq (The Singing Dentist). Well they had to find 100 people somewhere.

Early promotional shots for the show led some people to tweet about the visual similarities to The Muppet Show (they weren’t wrong) but The 100 (an overly sinister moniker) also look a bit like battery chickens, cooped up and flapping about in boxed pens.

And much like sad chickens, sometimes they have to be cajoled into getting up. Often the person next to them gives a whoop, turns to them and says “come on, this is great – get up!”

The only problem with All Together Now (OK, not the only problem but a problem) is that it isn’t actually a competition to find the best singer. It’s actually just a contest for who can pick the best song.

Take poor Alex for example. An unfortunate moustache aside, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the former footballer’s performance in this first episode. Heck, it might’ve even got a few turns on The Voice UK. The problem was that Alex had chosen to perform Elton John’s Your Song.

You could see the more kooky members of The 100 shifting bored in their seats (one of them even muttered “oh no” when he started singing). And because he wasn’t bad, a handful of people got to their feet with all the enthusiasm of having to give a standing ovation at the theatre just because the person in front has stood up and you can no longer see the stage. He got a paltry score of 11.

And then we had Michael Rice. He was a good singer (he’s previously auditioned for The X Factor) but it was almost certainly because he chose to perform Proud Mary by Tina Turner that he achieved the maximum score of 100. Who isn’t going to stand up when that song comes on?

All Together Now Michael Rice
All Together Now Michael Rice (BBC / EndemolShine)

Geri, too, seemed like she’d had enough midway through the episode. While they were waiting for the next singer to take to the stage, her next door cellmate Lili Davies, aka ‘Magic Betty’ (what a character!), tried to have some idle chit chat. With Geri remaining utterly po-faced throughout the whole exchange it was the sort of thing that makes you desperate for TV Burp to make a return.

Lili: “What did you have for dinner?”

Geri: “Not very much. Hummus.”

Lili: “No Jaffa Cakes?”

Geri: “No.”

And that was it. Now if that’s not a TV Highlight of the Week, I don’t know what is.

As a bit of Saturday night fluff, All Together Now isn’t bad. It’s just not that good either. It will no doubt have the same viewers, the same legacy and be just as fondly remembered as BBC1’s recent singing competition Pitch Battle.

Hang on, what do you mean you don’t remember Pitch Battle?

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All Together Now airs Saturdays on BBC1