In March 2011, as part of the BBC charity telethon Comic Relief – a biannual fundraising event created in 1985 by Richard Curtis and Lenny Henry, British comedy writers - the fabulous fictional reality TV star Geraldine McQueen met the extraordinary reality superstar Susan Boyle, in a pop video parody of ‘I Know Him So Well’, a song from the 1984 musical Chess, created by Tim Rice and the two guys from Abba.
Three years earlier British comedian Peter Kay had introduced his new comic character, a middle aged, plump and plain woman of Celtic origin, in an eerily prescient demonstration of the power of reality TV. A triumph of drag artistry, this fictional would be star, Geraldine McQueen – formerly transsexual Gerald Dean - goes on to win the spoof Channel 4 talent show BRITAIN’S GOT THE POP FACTOR - And Possibly A New Celebrity Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly On Ice.
Channel 4's head of programming Julian Bellamy described the show as "an affectionate spoof. It features TV auditions, bitchy judges, performance anxieties - they're all there". This brilliantly realized skit on the stylized, overly sentimental stable of TV talent shows as generated by omniscient music supremo Simon Cowell was a massive critical success. Presented by ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ host Cat Deeley, even Paul McCartney got in on the act, as Geraldine’s singing mentor. The winner’s song, co-written by Take That’s Gary Barlow, contained the memorable lyric, ‘Been waiting to sing for so long. My Winner’s Song!’.
On the release of the single 'My Winner's Song' in 2008, the pop video comically parodied Leona Lewis’ video for her debut single ‘A Moment Like This’. Released after she won the third series of Britain’s X Factor, it was the fastest selling single in UK history – being downloaded 50,000 times within 30 minutes of its release.
Just one year later, unlikely wannabe star Susan Boyle, middle aged, plump and plain, walked onto the international TV platform of Britain’s Got Talent. Whether she was inspired by her make believe Celtic predecessor Geraldine is not on record, but in a post-modern fusion of art meeting life, she stole the show. Her fragile persona and raw vocal talent won the heart of the British nation, and famously went on to charm the world.
Reality TV had a match made in Heaven. Susan Boyle – or SuBo as she is now affectionately known in Britain – is the perfect dead pan side kick for the antics of comedian Kay. His (or rather Geraldine’s) voice is surprisingly sweet and pleasing, and it actually blends beautifully with Susan Boyle's clear and inspirational vocals. True to form - Kay's parodies are always pitched with a subtle, ironic slant - the video is an affectionate yet amusing take on the original, which starred Scottish balladeer Barbara Dixon and English diva Elaine Page.
Susan Boyle may have confounded all expectations when she entered, then triumphed in Britain’s Got Talent, and this video gives her even greater scope – to be herself. Now a respected world wide star, she was always a natural, and her alliance with Peter Kay shows off not just her clear, true voice, but also her comic charisma. Most impressive of all, her talents can now raise money for millions of ordinary mortals. Just as she once was.
Susan Boyle and Peter Kay - I Know Him So Well (Pal)[DVD] US
I Know Him So Well (Comic Relief) [DVD] UK
Eileen O'Sullivan recommends this DVD from Amazon UK and Amazon US. She watched the Susan Boyle and Peter Kay Comic Relief video on British TV.