While the BBC may be home to some of our very best dramas, it hasn’t always had much luck in the entertainment stakes.
Strictly Come Dancing notwithstanding, few light entertainment programmes have managed to survive ‘the terrible twos’, with several Saturday night shows being given the chop instead of a third series.
First outing Fame Academy died off, All Together Now was axed, and The Greatest Dancer was not a runaway ratings winner by any chalk.
But after years of trying (and more often than not, failing) to catch up with ITV, the BBC may have finally cracked the entertainment formula with the newly announced Little Mix: The Search, which sees the 2011 X Factor winners become mentors themselves as they try and create the next big pop group.
They may be entering quite a saturated market, what with The Voice, The Voice Kids, The X Factor and to some extent Britain’s Got Talent all looking for the next big thing, but the BBC have played their trump card – Little Mix themselves.
More than just your run-of-the-mill girl group that got lucky on a talent show, Little Mix is one of the best-selling bands of all time having achieved huge success on both sides of the Atlantic.
Selling over 50 million records, winning two Brit Awards and supporting Ariana Grande on her Dangerous Woman tour, Little Mix are the perfect fit for a mentoring role; striking the ideal balance between being well-established and successful while still remaining fresh, relatable and exciting to an audience.
Little Mix have also endured the rigorous reality TV route to fame, having experienced it first-hand themselves on The X Factor – making them more primed to give helpful, constructive advice for coping in an increasingly unforgiving industry than the likes of Simon Cowell.
But their monumental successes aside, Little Mix is so popular because the band themselves are so likeable as individuals, endearing themselves to an audience by being refreshingly frank about their struggles. Jade Thirwall has discussed her battle with anorexia, Perrie Edwards has thrown her support behind body positivity and Leigh-Anne Pinnock has discussed the backlash the group has received – and how that’s affected their wellbeing.
Most recently, Jesy Nelson’s emotional documentary Odd One Out, which saw her bravely open up about the trolling she received and the extreme effect it had on her mental health, saw the band again widely applauded for something other than their music. The show achieved 1.87 million requests on the BBC iPlayer within seven days, with 64 per cent of those coming from 16-34-year-olds – the same young, passionate audience that could make Little Mix: The Search a success.
With the BBC’s tired entertainment shows failing to set the schedules alight, it’s time for a format refresh – and Little Mix are just the band to do it.
Little Mix: The Search is coming to BBC One and BBC iPlayer in 2020.