How Great is Britain? Our resident ranter Michelle Harris tackles the Britain’s Got Talent final
11.7 million people tuned in last weekend to the Britain’s Got Talent final. I can only assume that they let their toddlers do the voting. A dog won it. An effing dog, with a few doggy mates, an uncharismatic but devoted lady trainer, and a waggy tail has won one of the biggest monetary prizes on British telly and represents all British Talent at the Royal Variety. I bet HRH is well pissed off: “They’ve only gone and bloody done it again, Phillip. A chuffing animal act. Send Wills and Kate, they’re so fucking sleep-deprived they’ll laugh at anything”. And the canine clown didn’t even do his own stunts. Lightweight. Britain’s got talent? Britain’s got issues.
It may only be an ITV light-entertainment show, but to me it encompasses everything wrong with the namby-pamby it’s-the-taking-part-that-counts, it’s-not-what-you-know-it’s-who-you-know sob-story-sellout British attitude to anything competitive. We Brits have subverted what it means to be a winner. This bothers me.
This is why TOWIE gets air time, why people don’t aspire to be more intelligent, why Boris is Mayor of London. BGT is just one small stitch in the British tapestry of cringe. Contestant, judges and voters are all complicit in the shambolic quest for notoriety, and it bores me to the back teeth. It also makes me wonder whether we will see true drive and ambition in future generations.
What is the message being sent to British kids about what success actually means? When did the underdog become top dog? When did ‘passable singer: little bit ugly’, and ‘licks own bumhole but jumps in time to music become criteria for being a star?
Heaven forbid one of the acts should admit to wanting to win on their merit, to be rewarded for their hard work and receive credit where it’s due. “I’ve worked really hard to get good at this and I really want to win the money, I think I deserve a break.” Oh no, that’s far too straightforward. Instead they just look dewy-eyed into camera and falter over the West Life backing track as they monotone mantra-like about their dead budgie and their shit job and their wonky eye and their bad breath.
Nine times out of ten they mention an ankle injury, a migraine, a poorly digested chicken nugget, and cite said non-event as a possible jeapordising factor, before declaring in a stiff-upper-lip trooper kind of a way that they will ‘smash it’, ‘give Simon a run for his money’ or ‘do [insert northern industrial town-name] proud’. Come on, Barry from Scunthorpe, you’re plate-spinning, it’s hardly as though you’re marching scalpel in hand toward ground-breaking surgical innovation. Mariah might be singing Hero in the background, but I beg to differ.
What about the other finalists? Cor Glanaethwy (the super-hardworking and harmonious Welsh choir who were favourites to win) had to applaud a dancing dog and smile through gritted teeth, knowing that their undoubtedly superior talent had not been enough. Ditto the magician who’d spent years plying his trade in the working men’s clubs and probably isn’t going to get another shot at the big time. The message here is work really hard, give up your social life, rehearse, train, prepare, and lose out to a fucking dog in a daft hat because people are idiots.
Want to succeed in life? Screw hard work, dedication, skill or talent. Check your brain at the door. Let light-entertainment be your guide; all aboard the Cowell-Express. Be mediocre with a good back-story. Maybe dabble in a bit of crime and then find solace in dance. Make friends with animals with the wrong number of legs. Find some elderly relatives to cry while you croon Sinatra. Lisp along to the Sound of Music while Amanda Holden sobs into her cleavage. That’s what it all about. This is winning. This is Britain. Ain’t it great?