Jayne Dawson: Your talent show is total pants '“ so take that, Gary

Gary Barlow.Gary Barlow.
Gary Barlow.
Ouch! My poor old ears. What's that awful noise? Is it screeching'¦?

Well, there’s a bit of that going on but what I’m mainly hearing right now is ...scraping.

Yes, that’s it. Scraping. The sound of the bottom of a barrel being scraped.

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What is that poor person trying to extract, so desperately and furiously? Oh, I see.

It’s Gary Barlow, attempting to drag out the very last dregs of the find-a-star television formula.

Isn’t that sad?

Oh that show was awful, though. Tired, clunky, dull, and embarrassing.

For those of you who didn’t see it - many congratulations. You dodged a dud.

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It’s called Let It Shine and it follows the usual template. Gary is creating a theatre show about a boy band and this television show is all about finding its five “stars”.

So they sing before a panel of judges, they talk about their “dreams,” their families talk about how amazing they are. You know it off by heart.

Because it is Gary Barlow’s show, and he carries a bit of clout at the BBC, there are some other decent people on there with him.

Graham Norton is involved, and I love Graham. Mel Giedroyc, of Bake Off, is hosting too, and I love her almost as much as I love Graham. And Martin Kemp is a judge, though I don’t love Martin.

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But Gary isn’t bad. I know he’s a Tory and that counts very much against him for me, but he’s also a bloke who runs to fat and isn’t much of a dancer, and he’s open about both those issues, so that makes him likeable. Plus, he seems pretty generous with his time and money.

But when it comes to Let It Shine, none of it counts. A turkey is a turkey.

Actually, I don’t know if the show was really, really bad, or whether we are all just so bored with this particular formula.

It looked bad to me. Too much forced chat, too much awkward explanation of what was going on. I whiled away the time wondering why Graham and Mel had agreed to do it. They probably did too.

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We reached peak talent show television such a long time ago. That mountain has been scaled. Now viewers are running down the other side, skidding down on their bottoms, tumbling, sliding wailing - anything to escape another karaoke show.

The formula is at least 60 years old.

Opportunity Knocks began in the 1950s, and since then we have endured so, so many, with a glut in the Noughties of Popstars, Pop Idol and the monster that is X Factor.

The very first subject of a British musical reality TV show was Sheena Easton, and she’s 57 now. Enough already.

Television does that though, doesn’t it? It stumbles across a winning formula, picks it up and refuses to let go. Until in the end every bright idea starts to look like something small and dead still clamped in the jaws of a monster.

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Remember all those house makeover shows that got dafter and dafter, until certain designers were coming in and stapling glitter balls to everything, just to make the homeowners cry at the “reveal” stage.

Once every wall had been turned purple and black and every surface glittered, there came the garden makeover show, when Alan, Charlie and Tommy spread decking and water features across the land.

Cookery shows have mostly gone out of fashion now, but there was a time when desperate programme makeovers would take any gimmick: fat ladies, men on bikes, drunks. Anyone to fill the cookery slot.

But we viewers have got wise and, more importantly, we’ve got options. We don’t have to turn off and stare at the wall, we can watch a million different things delivered to us in a million different ways.

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Our horizons have been broadened and the sight of a boy band veteran with his shirt off isn’t enough to freshen up an old formula - so take that, Gary.


It’s irritating, I’ll give you that. But needs must.

You know how Scandinavia gets everything right and is our role model for all things? Well scrap that.

I told you it would irritate you.

Just when you have chucked out the chintz, scraped together the funds for a wooden floor and bought two sheepskin rugs to decorate it - I tell you this.

Put the candles back in the cupboard, let the candlesticks gather dust and use the throws as dusters - we’re not Scandis anymore

Sorry. But it’s important.

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I’m afraid we are going to have to go Dutch. Turns out the people living in the Netherlands are the ones who have the answers to everything, not the Scandinavians.

In the Netherlands they have the world’s happiest children - you might call it Holland but Holland is only a REGION of the Netherlands, so remember that.

And happy children make happy adults and a generally lovely world, so we need to pay attention.

It seems to be because they have a very old-fashioned childhood: lots of playing out, lots of second-hand toys, no homework until senior school, no reading or writing until aged six, basically no pressure.

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Plus one other thing - chocolate sprinkles on their toast for breakfast . They’re called Hagelslag - so that’s your new foreign word. Forget all about Hygge.


A great week for womankind, I would say.

Meryl Streep stood up at the Golden Globe awards and showed up US president-elect Donald Trump for the bully he is.

He had mocked a disabled reporter at one of his rallies and she used her awards platform to demolish him for his behaviour.

And if that wasn’t enough there was Mrs Hudson. My relationship with Sherlock has been rocky of late, since the scriptwriters got too clever by half, but Sunday’s episode was a humdinger.

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And the best bit was when Mrs Hudson, played by Una Stubbs, got all bad-ass.

Once Sherlock had shot her furniture one time too many, she turned the gun on him, whipped the handcuffs out of the salad drawer, stuffed him in the boot of her fancy car and dumped him at Watson’s, there to be sorted out.

Mrs Hudson, the spin-off, suddenly sounds like a fantastic idea