New year, time for new Saturday night prime time TV schedule and ITV have brought us a recycled and pumped up version of 90s singing competition Stars in Their Eyes and it. is. brilliant!!!
I missed the first competitor (Kylie impersonator and dog groomer from Slough) as I was tuned into series 4 of The Voice on BBC1 (the format as dull and predictable as ever and new edition Rita Boreoff makes me sleepy. I'm sure she's a lovely girl but she's all PR, no product). Within minutes of turning over to 'Stars', I was excited.
It's glorified karaoke with added panto and doesn't try to be anything else.
The contestants aren't looking for fame, they want to sing a song, dressed and sounding vaguely like their pop idols and have their moment on the tele. The sketches and links between each song are typical Harry Hill; a man arrives with a bag of smoke, there's a little chant about Slough, Adele's missing baby hidden in a sideboard, huge paper mache heads and the entire cast come on at the end to sing garbled lyrics over the theme tune. This is British working class entertainment and it's finest, most honest and most surreal.
I'm usually against format changing of good shows (Andi Peters destroying Top of the Pops for example) but this is a bold and brilliant move from a station usually conservative and dull in it's programming.
Social media detractors have complained about Hill and his team destroying the format of the beloved 'so bad it's good' show yet this is largely from a generation of TV viewers used to a manipulated back story, forced tears and Ant N Dec or Dermot O'Leary looming around. Reality talent competitions are promoted under a guise for a 'search' for the next big thing. Yet with so many former contestants cast aside, the audience are now fully aware that the only winner is Simon Cowell.
In Stars, there's no snobbery, nasty critiques, chair turning or dismissing peoples talents. Everyone is celebrated.
Maybe its too clever for people who prefer to be forced fed how to feel with emotive Westlife key changes and clever editing but I urge you to jump on the celebration of the absurd. Don't watch it expecting a credible array of talent. It's a daft, silly cartoon with a spot of karaoke.
Stars in Their Eyes 2015 is everything prime time TV should be. It's camp, ridiculous, funny and did I say camp? And hurrah for that being on mainstream TV.