Well, it’s over… after months of drawn out untalented humiliation this beefed up Opportunity Knocks has finally ended it’s 2008 run - just in time for the football and Big Brother to start. The auditions were, as usual, the only truly entertaining section as hoardes of delusional regionalists proudly offered themselves up to be mocked, booed and buzzed by a baying crowd of cackling misanthropes.
The semi-finals was an easy weeding of those who were only put through to be hate figures (a tone-deaf singing magic act, a senile keyboardist who covered Star Wars to make it more spacey) and those who showed a genuine talent. After months of audition they rushed these semi-finals through in a week, clearly aware that audience figures drop like flies once the tedious process of adulation and voting begins.
Piers Morgan, Amanda Holden and the ubiquitous Simon Cowell were our judges. Much has already been said about their questionable right to judge talent – particularly in Amanda’s case – so we shall skip right ahead to Saturday which was the final. These were the finalists:
The Cheeky Monkeys: The kind of kids potential parents fear having. These are all grinning, all dancing spangly visions of hell rolled into one cutesie dance act. High kicking and backflipping to the Grease soundtrack, they summed up all that is grotesque and perverse about parents forcing their kids into entertaining people. In 20 years time they’ll be like Quiz Kid Donnie Smith, cruising bars to find cheap smack.
Andrew Muir: the requisite cute boy singer gurned like Ruprecht from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels whilst murdering John Lennon’s Imagine, although a shorter version because, y’know, those songs about peace really are too long. Amanda thought it was great “like David Gray” whilst Simon and Piers chastised him for his choice of song. “It wasn’t my choice”, protested Andrew “I had no say in my choice of song” but his complaints were quickly hushed up.
Kate and Gin: a dog dancing act featuring a shut-in social pariah and her overly trained dog. It’s acts like this that make you truly weep inside – admirable only in the way that it must have taken her hours to do, the act however was neither entertaining nor satisfying. Just a little sad.
Nemesis: a street dance group that started impressively and steadily slid downhill the more routines they did. Much was made of them not having a rehearsal studio and using the Milton Keynes bus station instead. While they were admittedly impressive, they’re still basically an act that looked like it rehearsed in a bus station. Piers Morgan praised them for being outstanding examples of modern youth as the media was portraying them unfairly these days – a statement so hypocritical that it could only come from the former editor of a tabloid.
Strike: a martial arts act of which Amanda said “turned martial arts into entertainment”. Huh? What the fuck do the Shaolin Monks and Jackie Chan do then? They were impressive due to the fact that I can’t do high kicks, but it was like watching extras in a Jason Statham movie get it wrong. Amanda loved their ripped abs, though, and much was made of their ability to take their shirts off to sound effects.
Andrew Johnston: the sort of act that it seems unfair to include in these competitions because he’s so naturally talented. No matter how much work the other contestants put into their acts, few will be able to match the natural ability of this falsetto 12 year old. Unfortunately, his remarkable talent wasn’t enough for the producers and we were subjected to such overemoting about him being bullied at school for his voice that by the end you wanted to swipe the little fucker’s pocket money yourself.
George Sampson: another child entry, this time a teenage breakdancer who’d failed to make the grade last year but scraped through this time around. His routine was an admittedly very impressive sequence of fluid motion that only went wrong at the end when a poorly thought through section under a shower of water made it look like he was in remake of Flashdance.
Faryl Smith: a 12 year old singer who, much like Andrew Johnston, kind of made a mockery of the whole competition by being so preposterously naturally talented that everyone else paled in comparison. Simon was so besotted with her that you could actually see the pound signs flashing up in his eyes.
Escala: a quartet of high-class Nuts Magazine hotties who play string instruments in a really high-class hot way. They were the favourites to win on account of their incredible hotness and the fact that they were really good at what they do. Simon went a tad too far, claiming that they “turned classical music on its head” while simultaneously forgetting that Live and Let Die isn’t actually a classical track and that Vanessa Mae had ever existed.
Signature: an Indian Jay and Silent Bob whose Michael Jackson-themed dance routines were actually very charming and quite funny…
And the winner is… Simon Cowell!
Let’s face it - who really cares who gets to perform in front of Prince Charles when Cowell’s income for the next few years is at stake? Luckily he’ll be ok with Faryl Smith and Escala as his bread and butter, so watch out for albums from them in time for Christmas.
The real winner was George Sampson, the teenage breakdancer – and his victory was sweet and appreciated - the 14 year old being genuinely overwhelmed and very flattered with the honour. None of the bookies’ favourites made it into the top three, which makes you wonder if, with ITV’s reputation, they didn’t just decide it themselves.
Sampson’s career won’t last long because Cowell can’t push his single in 24 countries simultaneously, but he was a sweet kid and as deserving a winner as any of them I suppose.
And so the Cowell juggernaut thunders on – next week America’s Got Talent starts on ITV2 and the endless pursuit for fleeting fame continues…