Worst Show on TV … and I Watch it Every Week

Published by Rick on Tagged Uncategorized

                   It was by accident that about a month ago, while killing time in a hotel room in Cardiff, that I turned on ITV just after 7PM and did not know there could be a show so utterly despicable that I would wind up being hooked on it. Such is the show “Sing If You Can,” which pits teams of “celebrities” to sing under adverse conditions, with “other celebrity” judges deciding, along with the studio audience, which team shall win. The winning team then gets to donate at least £10,000 and up to £20,000 to their favorite charity. That extra amount is determined by how long each team (of three members each) can sing while staying balanced on a carousel that proceeds to spin faster with passing seconds. Oh, and the losing team’s captain gets dunked into an aquarium. Sounds good already, don’t it? 

                First thing I realized was that I’d scarcely heard of any of the celebrities, even the ones who had purportedly been in the music business. One of the few I knew was Sheila Ferguson, a former member of The Three Degrees, an American Soul group of the 70’s, who were better known in UK, especially after being singled out by Prince Charles as a favorite. Ferguson was made to compete with some other D-lister, perhaps a former Coronation Street cast member (as good a guess as any other) singing some recent tune barefoot while stepping into boxes containing ice, sludge, or live maggots. Then the judges were to proclaim who sang better under the pressure. Because I hadn’t tuned in at the beginning, I didn’t get the judges’ names, though I recognized one of them as comedian Jarred Christmas, whom I’d worked with many times, and by far a funnier person than a show like this would allow him to be.

                 No, the “funny” department is taken up by the obnoxious host, Keith Lemon, né Leigh Francis. Since I have only been here ten years, I never knew the characters that Francis created in the popular Bo Selecta series in the late 90’s/early 00’s, and that he did thus have some comedy credibility. I only know the blond, mustachioed “Am-I-funny-or-what?” character of Lemon that also hosts Celebrity Juice on More4 channel. When Ant & Dec present “I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here,” they smirk their way through as they inform a certain celeb that he/she must endure some humiliating task, but at least it’s not to a live audience. Lemon plays to the crowd’s basest levels, reveling in his degradation of these once mildly-famous people to the studio audience, who, likely prompted, shriek and holler their approval/disgust while someone endures singing through a simulated hurricane.

                    Equally annoying, but then she’s always been a thorn in my side, is co-host Stacy Solomon, who two years ago was an unknown 19-year-old single mom from Dagenham who just happened to be a fairly good singer. She finished third on X Factor in 2009, but unlike several of the other finalists, didn’t gain a recording contract out of the deal. Instead, she went on to appear in, and WIN, “I’m a Celebrity” in 2010. When she was on X Factor she was annoying to me every time she opened her mouth to do anything but sing. Guess what she DOESN’T do on this show. Her main function is to read from the teleprompter various announcements about the charities that each celebrity team is donating their proceeds to. That “What-am-I-doing-here” Essex Girl vibe permeates through all her on-camera moments, as most of what she reads is done over amped-up audience applause. No one mentions, and it is to be assumed, that the has-been celebrities are also getting paid to appear. If they’re not, then Show Biz is crueler than I gave it credit for being!

                      A week ago, when I was watching, I was treated to the delight of watching the luckiest twins on the planet, that phenomenon in their own mind known as Jedward, singing while being doused in oil from above. Given their lack of singing talent from the outset, this was what many of us wanted to see happen when they were X Factor contestants, competing against Stacy Solomon. It was temporarily funny, but then the irony of “Wait, THEY’RE singing and Stacy’s not, something’s terribly wrong with this picture” took over. Later on the show, given that their signature Billy Idol nightmare hair-dos had to be rinsed out along with the oil, they appeared with hair down publicly for perhaps the first time. Got to admit, they looked rather handsome. (They represented their native Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest this past weekend, while the reunited boy band Blue represented UK. Jedward finished 8th out of 25, three places ahead of Blue, which hints that maybe if England gave less of a toss about seriously trying to win the thing, they might do better.) 

                       The show is insulting, degrading, mocking, and largely unfunny. I’m sure the celebs involved never expected that the roads to and from fame would sometimes be hindered by these types of whistle-stops. Still I can’t explain why I’d rather watch this than the show that it precedes, “Britain’s Got Talent,” of which I haven’t watched a single minute this year. BGT comes on at 8:00, when I’m usually leaving for a gig, and I’ve been working every Saturday for a while (thank God!). Is it the old adage of feeling better about oneself watching people struggle for that 16th minute of fame? Or is it simply that there’s nothing better on at that time? It’s only got one more week to go, and given that BGT’s ratings are down, maybe a different show will be tried as a lead-in next year. That would be good news/bad news for me, unless the show was more crass than this one. Is such a show even remotely possible?



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