Sunday, 12 April 2009

Daring to dream

Since I've been writing this blog, a number of people have commented how 'me' it is. Some say sarcastic, others say scathing, and it would be churlish of me to disagree. But sometimes, I see something that cuts through the cynicism and just gives me a dose of the warm fuzzies. Last night, it was Britain's Got Talent.

I'm not talking about the show itself, that's still the same tawdry, variety show that the I hoped had died out in the seventies along with Pan's People and the three-day week. The vast majority of acts are soul-crushingly inept losers, usually just a gossamer thread away from from a full-on nervous breakdown. But occasionally a glimmer of talent emerges, hand-in-hand with a tragic tale of woe, and the tabloids masturbate themselves into apoplexy. Meanwhile, Ant and Dec gurn from the wings, mocking the acts, trash-talking the judges, and generally just filling in time until their next trip to the trichologist.

So it was purely by accident that I happened to see ten minutes of Britain's Got Talent last night, and the performance of Susan Boyle. This 47 year-old (who looks a good 20 years older) has never been kissed and lives alone with a cat in a Scottish village. As she took the the stage, the whole audience and the three insufferably smug judges, were already laughing dismissively at the woman alternately described in the press as 'Ma Larkin' or a 'Hairy Angel'. It didn't help that she looked like she'd been styled by Helen Keller, or that she made the mistake of attempting to gyrate seductively in a manner that reminded me of John Hurt's convulsions right before the Alien made its debut.

She said that she wanted to be a professional singer, but had never had the chance, as the camera cut to some scrape-faced teenager in the audience rolling her eyes. She dreamed of a career like Elaine Paige, which probably sent the younger half of the show's audience to Wikipedia to look up the grand dame of musical theatre. The judges prepared themselves for the worst, and off she went.

It must have taken all of five seconds for the audience to realise what was happening. It was one of those moments where a show like this transforms from a Roman spectacle of Christians vs lions, and becomes something truly magical, with the power to change lives. It's the kind of moment that once took a dentally defective mobile phone salesman and turned him into the best selling recording artist ever discovered on a talent show. Never mind that 'true opera fans' were falling over themselves to deride the bastardisation of their beloved art form. The fact is, someone utterly unremarkable in almost every way, found an opportunity to showcase the one thing about himself that was remarkable. And people loved it. I wouldn't be surprised if Susan enjoys a similar fate.

Interestingly, we got a text this morning from a friend in Australia, commenting on her performance, that he'd heard about on Ashton Kutcher's Twitter feed. I guess good news travels fast.

Anyway, that's my heart-warming story for today - back to venom and vitriol tomorrow. In the meantime, see for yourself what all the fuss is about:


  1. Here here, Mr G. She was bloody brilliant.

    And I bet Trinny and Suze are just itching to get her into their mirror room!

  2. Proof that lightning does strike twice :-) Nice post.

  3. so, usually when you accost me in the hallway on arrival and insist that I listen to/watch something you're raving about, I'm less than excited. But thanks for this one, I feel oddly proud to have seen it first hand and not just becasue it was all over You Tube