My mum adored the late Leslie Crowther, which explains why I remember him as the very first host of Stars In Their Eyes. A guilty pleasure of mine and a television institution, it started way back in 1990. Camp (especially during the legendary Matthew Kelly era), glittery and glossy, it’s a simple idea so well executed. Maybe that’s why the BBC has blatantly duplicated it lock, stock and two smoking performances for new Graham Norton vehicle, The One And Only.
Charles Caleb Colton coined the phrase about imitation being the sincerest form of flattery and it has never seemed more apt. I thought Auntie Beeb had reached a light entertainment nadir with Just The Two Of Us but they’ve outdone themselves with this hilariously inferior Stars In Their Eyes doppelganger. I was invited to the live Saturday night taping by the fab BBC publicity team and to my absolute amazement, against all the odds, I actually enjoyed the night! It’s akin to snooker; awful to watch on TV, but really fun if you’re participating.
OK you do have to put up with annoying directions by the floor manager to stand up for a song or sway in your chair or cheer the contestants and clap for Graham, but there’s no way I would’ve sat in front of this had I been home; life’s too short.
Elton and Dusty Springfield did their thing and they were OK (if a little too tall in the case of the Elton imitator), but it took a ginger Lionel Richie to really get the party started. There was the picture of white supermarket employee Moni Tivony (great name!) before us and in that instance, a studio audience was thinking as one…how?
And would he be any good? Kudos to the BBC make-up team for attention to detail; they even gave him a peppercorn-looking hairy chest (if you saw John Barnes’ rug on Strictly Come Dancing and you’ll know exactly what I mean). It had me in stitches! Our ginger Lionel Ritchie could’ve stepped into any blaxploitation flick – ya dig? Right on brother! Gimme some skin! He had the audience firmly on his side the minute the transformation was revealed.
Here’s the video of his performance.
At the top, I mentioned two smoking performances – Moni’s was one of them; Graham Norton’s was the other. Even if the BBC are giving him a load of pap to front, the former Father Ted star is utterly professional and extremely likeable. He came down to meet members of the press gathered in one of the BBC green rooms (thanks for the Champers and canapés Auntie; I’ll take that as a personal apology for Davina McCall’s turgid chat show) and chatted with us all for ages.
What’s more, he displayed great enthusiasm about the show (and refreshing honesty about some of the contestants….and no. I’m not telling). Lovely guy.
Showbusiness may be cruel, but if a crueller mechanic exists for booting participants off shows than this one, I’ve yet to see it. The contestants vote for the act they want to save but instead of stopping when Madonna (Evelyne Brink) had clearly won, it carried on. Were it not for Tom Jones (Simon Abbotts), poor Rod Stewart (Greg Dorrell) would’ve been Billy-no-mates, all on his lonesome. His Terrahawks wig and ill-fitting leopard skin was bad enough (borrowed from Corrie’s Bet Lynch perchance?), did the poor bloke really need that additional humiliation?
Can I also say, I see no point in Robbie Williams and Kylie Minogue winning a residency in Las Vegas. They may be adored here, but they’re virtually unknown in certain parts of the US.
Today I am mostly lovin’ – Mad Men’s success at the Golden Globes. Can’t wait to see it on BBC Four.
Today I am mostly hatin’ – OK I don’t hate it – but who came up with the name ‘Mandle Candle’? I just can’t take that advert seriously! It’s the naughties equivalent of Ferrero Rocher’s Ambassador’s party ad. Funny!
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