Jayne Dawson: The glory days of the great pretender are all over

Have your say

The shock news is that Mel B is off X Factor, has been given the old heave-ho from the judging panel.

I say “shock” but I don’t mean it. Shock nothing!

The real surprise was that our Leeds-born Mel was ever on there because - come on, you know I’m right - Mel has so little to recommend herself to that or any other show.

As you will know without shadow of doubt if you saw her performance on the last Big Fat Quiz of the Year, Mel isn’t strong on humour.

And she doesn’t do witty either. And she doesn’t do smart, and she doesn’t do clever. And she doesn’t do insightful, or thoughtful, or original.

What Mel does is flat declarations. She is in fact a bit scary, so at least her Spice Girl name suited her.

And Mel was okay in the Spice Girls, though she couldn’t sing.

Most celebrities in 2015 are talentless. They have no discernable skill - and they admit it. Kim Kardashian makes an amazing living out of selfies of herself. Apart from growing her bottom and shrinking her waist, she does little else. She more or less says so herself.

But Mel B is different. She is, I think, the last of those generations of stars who pretended to be famous for a reason, rather than openly celebrating their lack of any gift at all.

Here are some of the other great pretenders from showbusiness history:

Let’s start with Cliff - and I hope none of his loyal fans are reading because they don’t half get riled when Cliff is spoken of in less than reverential tones.

Anyway, I’m going to risk it. Cliff broke through to fame at a time when we weren’t all that demanding.

It was the early days of television, Cliff could wiggle his hips and curl his lip a bit - a very little bit - like Elvis, and that was good enough for us.

He soon stopped doing that and his every song since has sounded just the same as the last one, and his every dance move has involved doing that terrible hitchhiker move with his thumbs.

It’s worked a treat though. Cliff is a supreme pretender.

And then there was Cilla. Her vocal range was never brilliant was it? There was the Cilla whisper, and there was the Cilla shout. And nothing inbetween. She wasn’t much of a looker either.

But she came along at the right time, all mixed up with Liverpool and The Beatles, and she took her mediocrity and she ran with it. For decades. As she sang less, she talked more and her Liverpudlian accent became ever more impenetrable as her years away from the city increased. But she acted talented and we believed her. She is a great pretender.

And what about Bruce Forsyth? The man is practically regarded as a saint. There was almost a day of mourning when he retired from Strictly Come Dancing. But why? In truth, he was that show’s weak link. He can’t sing, he’s not funny and his dancing is nothing to write home about. And it’s not a matter of age, he was never much good at any of these things.

Bruce has talked about his decades in the business and his roots in music hall, and all of that, as if he is a veteran with training like no other . But the plain fact is he has spread a very little ability thinner than Marmite on toast. He is an amazing pretender.

Just like Lulu. A woman known for her perky pop personality, but have you ever really enjoyed one of her songs? Aren’t they all just Lulu being loud, and perky? Yet currently, this original popette is having a revival. Her pretence is working still.

So Mel B got lucky. She has her millions, she has her fame.

But she isn’t alone in trying to pull the wool over our eyes about her lack of actual talent, bigger people than her have been doing it for decades, but the age of the great pretender is coming to a close. It’s all about the honest talentless now.