It'll never fly: TV Talent Shows

Amateur talent shows should have died out with Opportunity Knocks. In a 20-year run, the only memorable stars it yielded were Les Dawson, Frank Carson and Little and Large. And Bonnie Langford. Yet the novice has become king of the box again. We now get six-year-olds warbling Somewhere over the Rainbow and barmen juggling cocktail-shakers in our living rooms every day. There has been a glut, from X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing to - most amateur of all - Britain's Got Talent. Launched last summer, BGT was like a David Attenborough show unearthing odd animal behaviour: a bloke performing Michael Jackson hits with his toy monkey, or a father-and-daughter knife-throwing act stopped over safety fears. Fans of good old-fashioned drama may well feel left out, but, deep down, Britain still loves a dreamer - the BGT final drew 11.2 million viewers. That's 48.4% of the market. Why the resurgence? It's the same as reality shows - there's no risk of soaring star fees or production costs. And they pay big. X Factor's production company Syco rakes in £6m a year from its phone-ins alone. Meanwhile, its boss Simon Cowell (left) signed a £20m ITV deal a year ago to appear as a judge till at least 2009. Unfortunately, the phrase 'great TV moment' now means Celebrity Scissorhands' Steve Strange cutting a chunk out of a client's ear. Meanwhile, Brits with real talent are disappearing from our screens. The amateur gets the opportunity, the pro takes the knocks.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

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