Britain’s Got Talent Season 3

Episode two – the hand of god

Posted in Uncategorized by bgts3 on April 25, 2009

the-hand-of-simon-cowell

After giving us ‘the Susan Boyle phenomenon’ in its first episode, expectations were unfeasibly high for the second Britain’s Got Talent auditions show. It started with news clips from around the world which featured the SBP, and it was left to one of America’s oldest men, Larry King, to verbalise what many of us were thinking: “That is a tough act to follow,” he said, pointing his finger at the screen like we’d done something to upset him. Indeed – what could possibly be more entertaining than a frumpy Scottish woman with a good voice? A moody teenage girl poking her tongue out? A lecturer dressed in a flag taking her dog for a walk? A parrot that doesn’t talk? A post office worker dancing in a Darth Vader mask? An insurance clerk making farting noises? Cue the titles…

First stop was Cardiff, the city that had given BGT its first winner, Paul Potts, and the first act was the Singing Souls, three extremely young looking girls from Wiltshire. Their on-screen stats defined them as students aged 16 – 17 but they barely looked as if they’d started big school yet. They were confident though, telling the camera they were better than the Pussycat Dolls and the Sugababes – which is rarely a good sign.

Hannah, the tallest one, was their spokesgirl, and we can only hope her parents had promised her a pony or something if she came across like an arrogant brat, because she was pretty convincing in the role.

“What’s the dream, girls,” asked Simon. “Who’d you want to be like, the Spice Girls?”

“Anyone can outsell them,” replied Hannah, dismissing the most popular girl group the world has ever seen.

Although Simon likes to work with acts that are humble, as they are no doubt easier to manipulate and exploit, he also likes those who have a quiet confidence in their abilities. He doesn’t tend to go overboard on swagger though. The backing track kicked in and they managed just ‘You don’t remember me but..’ before Simon buzzed. It wasn’t that they had bad voices, more that they just didn’t have voices – they resembled three toddlers doing a party piece for adoring grandparents. After Piers and Amanda had brought the performance to a close by also buzzing, Simon told the Singing Souls they were one of the worst groups he’d ever seen in his life. A bad tempered exchange with Hannah followed, too tedious to repeat here, which culminated in her poking her tongue out at him. See for yourself at www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_IfdaqIY1A

Next up was 32-year-old lecturer Clair and Cariad, both wearing Welsh flags as outfits. Clair tried to get Cariad to literally jump through hoops to impress the audience but Cariad’s heart just wasn’t in it. Did I mention that Cariad was a dog? “You might as well have just taken her for a walk on stage,” said Simon. See what he means at www.youtube.com/watch?v=1D6mwZpB8eQ&feature=related

Jem Stride had a unique talent. The 25-year-old insurance clerk described himself as a manualist, and by squeezing his hands together he could produce music. On the otherwise execrable Britain’s Got More Talent show that follows the main programme on ITV2, Jem’s gift was given a more sympathetic showcase. His ability to belt out the theme tunes to Eastenders, Corrie and Home and Away to order suggested the judges had missed a trick. Maybe they didn’t like the sound his hands produced, which resembled farts, or perhaps it was his choice of song. See Jem at www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjYs_YOKrhg

The final act from Cardiff in this segment was Zed Van Veen, a 34-year-old entertainer, who put a burning stick down his trousers.

Off to Birmingham, and 68-year-old ventriloquist David Swash introduced us to his sidekick Dexter. They were both dressed like Elvis but they settled on a curiously high pitched rendition of a Roy Orbison song. “Your mouth was wider than his,” said Simon to David. “It’s not as big as yours though,” he replied tartly. The performance can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhuycoPb7j0

And then Darth Vader turned up. Or at least 37-year-old postal worker Philip did, with a Darth mask and lightsabre. After a little chit-chat with the judges Philip returned to the side of the stage to retrieve his lightsabre from Ant and Dec. Ant, rather mischievously, wouldn’t give it to him. Few of us would have blamed Philip at this point if he had decked Ant. Star Wars music played over the PA and back onto the stage he strutted. The on-screen title informed us that we were watching Darth Jackson, not Philip, but as he was only waving his lightsabre around to the music it didn’t really matter. Cat calls and jeers from the audience, bad tempered buzzes from Simon and Amanda, but nothing from Piers – did he know something we didn’t? Darth signalled to the stage for his next music track to be played and the whole mood changed as Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean thumped out and Darth danced like Michael. “The act is ridiculous,” said Simon, but Piers and the fickle Amanda disagreed. “Weirdly enjoyable,” she said. The first Yes of the episode. See Darth at www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxL3Yvf-d58

Darth Jackson:
Gosh, What a Surprise Factor: 7
Want to See Again Factor: 4
Chance of Winning Factor: 2

A group of schoolgirls and students with painted on moustaches said they were a tribute to – no, not Susan Boyle – Freddie Mercury. The dance troupe, called Tribute, performed to We Will Rock You, and Piers said they were: “Great, very original and you’re all very, very good dancers.” Simon, who had buzzed Tribute, took a different view: “Ridiculous. A weird idea, very gimmicky, stupid costumes, terrible moustaches and pointless.” But with two votes in their favour it was another Yes. Tribute can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kr2g4mRNbRo

Tribute:
Gosh, What a Surprise Factor: 5
Want to See Again Factor: 5
Chance of Winning Factor: 2

Atilla Iskifoglu, a 30-year-old barman, took his cue from those two guys from the previous season who juggled bottles and made cocktails. Atilla the Nun, as he could have called himself if he’d come on wearing a habit, did the same sort of thing, tossing bottles in the air and bouncing them on his elbow. No doubt it goes down a storm in an alcohol fuelled environment and the audience liked it too. Simon didn’t, and Piers suggested Atilla should recruit some glamorous assistants, but it was another Yes. See Atilla at www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4b6lC9RtMI

Atilla Iskifoglu:
Gosh, What a Surprise Factor: 3
Want to See Again Factor: 3
Chance of Winning Factor: 1

Dressed identically in black trousers, white shirts and thin black ties, six-piece band Bluejam – all aged between 17 and 19 – took the audience back to the 1950s with a rendition of Jailhouse Rock. They liked it too, as did Piers and Amanda. Simon, who had buzzed in early, said they looked odd as a band. Poor Simon. It must be so hard for him having to look at ordinary people during his visits to the UK, when he’s become used to nubile beauties scattering rose petals in front of him wherever he goes in America. Simon said they couldn’t win, so it was a no from him, but Piers and Amanda were having none of that talk. Another Yes, which can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8A2h1DrU9I

Bluejam:
Gosh, What a Surprise Factor: 3
Want to See Again Factor: 3
Chance of Winning Factor: 2

“With Simon in a bad mood it couldn’t be a worse time to audition for whoever is next in line,” warned Dec in a voiceover, to the accompaniment of the Bowie/Queen collaboration Under Pressure. After a dramatic pause, Ant added: “And the man with that pressure on his shoulders is 39-year-old saxophone player Julian Smith.” Oh come on boys, is that the best you can do? Still, at least we were spared the ‘this is his last chance of making a success of it before he goes back to being a binman’ gumph that we usually get on X Factor. Julian looked serious, and we were shown pictures of him at various stages in his life as he told us that he’d been playing for around 20 years. When asked by Piers what ‘the dream’ was, he replied humbly that it would be to play to audiences of this size on a regular basis, which got a round of applause. If only Hannah and the Singing Souls had said something like this it could have all been so different for them… Julian was a music teacher and the sound from his soprano saxophone suggested he knew his subject. It was haunting and uplifting and his choice of song – There’s A Place, from West Side Story – was a perfect showcase for his instrument and his mastery of it. Simon looked genuinely shocked and quite solemn during the performance – probably because he was calculating how quickly he could rush out a ‘Julian Smith plays tunes from the musicals’ CD into the shops. He finished to a standing ovation from the audience and tears from Amanda, who said he was stunning. Piers said he was: “Very cool, all of it – the look, the way you played, the soul, the emotion. We’ve all been completely blown away by you.” Simon said that the idea of doing BGT was to find someone with a huge talent who needed a break, and he believed he’d found that with Julian. “Certain people have just got ‘it’ and that was a beautiful choice of music, you played it brilliantly and there could be something special about you,” he concluded. See for yourself at www.youtube.com/watch?v=tz8BvSiop5Q

Julian Smith:
Gosh, What a Surprise Factor: 5
Want to See Again Factor: 10
Chance of Winning Factor: 9

From the sublime to 43-year-old ex-bus driver Louise Moores and her performing African Grey parrot, Harry. “He’s the best friend I’ve ever had,” said Louise, who had been ‘rehearsing non-stop’ with Harry for their big moment. They were supposed to be singing Aha’s Take On Me together but Louise was let down by her best friend on this occasion. Not a squawk. Sadly Louise’s voice was not enough on its own to carry the performance. “Off, off, off,” chanted the heartless audience, and that was indeed where Louise went.

Personally I find most animal acts tedious – though there was an astonishing act which used cats on America’s Got Talent a season ago – and we were then subjected to dog display team Paws For Thought, who set fire to their equipment and expected their dogs to walk through it. How ridiculous, not to mention cruel – their dogs will probably burn to death at some point as they will have learned that fire is something to lark about with. We also got to see Mark Bucknall and his balancing dog Cindy, and Snakey Sue, neither of which made much impression on the judges or the audience.

But that couldn’t be said of 48-year-old Peter Coghlan, who had been married for 21 years and had two little boys. He’s going to be good, we said to each other, as we were shown photographs of Peter and his family and heard that he’d been doing his act in working men’s clubs for around 26 years. What we weren’t expecting was for Peter’s act to be a drag, but it was, in the true sense of the word. He walked on stage in a long white fur coat and full make-up, topped with a vibrant orange wig. After a good natured exchange with the judges the music started and the coat came off, revealing a belly dancer costume and a very big belly. He jiggled it as he mimed to the music, much to the horror of the audience and judges, and this was compounded by his decision to insert a finger into the flab that surrounded his navel, which he then sucked suggestively. “The lowest form of entertainment I’ve ever seen,” said Simon. “If you think for one second I’m going to put you through, so you can stick fingers in certain parts of your body in front of the royal family, you can think again.” But Amanda wanted to see Peter again, and Piers said he was “weirdly hypnotic” so he picked up a very popular Yes. Peter can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9mtE__GBKA

Peter Coghlan:
Gosh, What a Surprise Factor: 9
Want to See Again Factor: 7
Chance of Winning Factor: 1

We were back in Wales for the final part of the show where we saw 39-year-old David Derbyshire pretend to chainsaw off his own head, and presumably other tricks, though we didn’t get to see them, but he seemed to be a hit with the audience and judges. Another Yes.

David Derbyshire:
Gosh, What a Surprise Factor: 8
Want to See Again Factor: 7
Chance of Winning Factor: 5

Next up was the Debbie Chapman Dancers, a local dance troupe aged between 14 and 21. They were dressed like they worked in a cake factory, with white overalls and hair nets, but they were well rehearsed and went through several costume changes during their very energetic performance. “It was just sensational,” said Simon, and he pointed to one girl who was fake tanned to an alarming degree and added: “And you are one of the prettiest girls I’ve ever seen in my life.” Ooh Simon. A definite Yes, which can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=ft7FMMBZaZk&feature=related

DCD Seniors:
Gosh, What a Surprise Factor: 7
Want to See Again Factor: 8
Chance of Winning Factor: 7

The last act of the show was a 12-year-old boy from Swansea called Shaheen Jafargholi. We were introduced to him and his mother backstage and, to the accompaniment of the theme from High School Musical, he said he would be singing Amy Winehouse’s version of Valerie. He looked confident and got a good reception from the audience as he began. But after just a couple of lines he was interrupted by the hand of god – or Simon Cowell, as he’s also known to the BGT crew. “You’ve got this really wrong,” said Simon, to the bemusement of the audience. “What do you sing apart from that?” After a pause Shaheen replied that he also knew the Michael Jackson song, Who’s Loving You. “Do you want to give that a go?” asked Simon. Shaheen did. The backing music changed and he belted out his second choice song, to a chorus of cheers from the audience and a more appreciative nodding response from Simon. To my knowledge Simon has never done this before, and cynics might feel this was a bit of a set-up. Why not just buzz him if you didn’t like it, Simon? What if he hadn’t had the music for a second song available? After his performance Simon said: “This is how one song can change your life. And this may be the start of something special for you, young man.” Piers added: “You have just shown that Wales has got talent.” Amanda said she got goosebumps when she saw George Sampson and Paul Potts – both previous winners of BGT – and she also got them from him. A clear Yes, which is online at www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVU4IkzMNIo

Shaheen Jafargholi:
Gosh, What a Surprise Factor: 7
Want to See Again Factor: 7
Chance of Winning Factor: 9

We’ve since learned in the press that Shaheen is no beginner to the biz called show, but the BGT producers said in response, quite reasonably, that the programme is open to everyone. And that was it for another week. No Susan Boyle moments, but a solid follow up to the previous week’s opener. As the credits rolled we were given a glimpse of some of the treats to come next week – Kelly Brook as the short-lived fourth judge and a guy balancing over a knife which he appeared to slip down on and stab into his head. Somehow I doubt that is what will actually happen though…

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