Cash-strapped ITV (whose revenue, unlike the BBC, depends on advertising) is pinning its hopes on the new series of Britainís Got Talent to beat the credit crunch.
As with the previous two series, the judges are ex-newspaper editor Piers Morgan, actress Amanda Holden and, of course, Simon Cowell. Cowell has stated that he hopes the show will bring about a revival in ITVís fortunes and he is, allegedly, prepared to take a pay cut in order to help.
Simon Cowell and his talent shows have had a meteoric rise in recent years. Cowell himself started off as a post boy at music company EMI and has built his empire single-handedly. His television career began with Pop Idol, which morphed into The X Factor, the first series being shown in 2003. Along with Cowell were judges Louis Walsh and Sharon Osbourne. The show became a huge hit and the franchise was sold worldwide.
The show follows a familiar format. Hundreds line up for the chance to audition, some which are televised. Commonly there is the embarrassment factor where people with clearly no talent but with enormous egos think they can sing/dance/juggle etc. Their delusions are laid bare before the nation and their egos pierced by barbed comments from the judges, in particular from Cowell who has gain a reputation for being ĎMr Nasty.í
As the acts are eliminated, the real stars show through. And there have been notable successes such as Will Young, from Pop Idol, and Leona Lewis from The X Factor. However, some of the winners have hardly been heard from again or those who have come second may even achieve great fame.
In many, though, the contestants play second fiddle to the judges. Of course, Simon Cowell owns the shows and rules the roost. The original X Factor line-up with Louis Walsh and Sharon Osbourne has changed with Osbourne being replaced by Australian signer Dannii Minogue, sister of Kylie, and Girls Aloud singer Cheryl Cole. As each judge supports or mentors particular acts, the competition between the judges for their favoured acts to win becomes as intense as the competition between the contestants.
Simon Cowell has franchised the shows worldwide and his success, especially in the US, has been immense. The third series of Britainís Got Talent, which started on April 11, is hosted by popular duo Ant and Dec and is already a ratings winner for ITV.
The success must stem from the unexpected taking place. A case in point is contestant Susan Boyle. This lady is 47, she comes from Bathgate in Scotland, lives with her cat Pebbles, has never been married and as she admitted, has never been kissed. I think it would be true to describe Susan as no looker Ė the kind of woman you really would not notice in a crowded room. Indeed, as she stood on the stage before Morgan, Holden and Cowell, there were almost snorts of derision from the audience and cynical glances from the judges. Then she started to singÖ