I’m not sure what the top Saturday night programmes are in the UK and USA at present – almost certainly they’ll involve Simon Cowell and, at the BBC, something altogether camper. But they’ll all have the search for the next BIG talent at their core. In Italy it’s not dissimilar – they’ve got their version of X factor and all that but the main early evening blockbuster on Rai Uno (the equivalent of BBC1) is a bizarre thing called ‘Ti Lascio Una Canzone?’ which seems to translate as ‘Did I Leave A Song?’ which you’ve got to admit is an odd kinda title.
The show is about searching out talent but here’s the twist – it’s all kids aged from around 10-15. there seems to be anything up to 20 of them vying for the main prize (whatever that is). Now those who know me will be aware how much I adore kids – I just love all that confidence, energy, curiosity, affection, innocence, desire to learn and willingness to believe. But when it comes to singing the fact is that kids’ voices aren’t developed and they just screech their way through songs. Name me any kid who could really sing.
So to develop a programme around their talents is bold. But over here they’ve developed a huge spectacular 2 hours of stuff around the concept. The programme’s set in the splendid Ariston theatre in San Remo (I think). I don’t know the size of the live audience but it is huge. Beyond the extended families (and they must offer each family at least 50 free passes given the enthusiastic receptions) they must pay people to turn up. You couldn’t tempt me to the event even if you told me that Cameron Diaz was hosting it in a tiny white bikini and demonstrating how she oils her skin before sunbathing…………………….Sorry, my mind got a bit distracted there for a second.
But they do have an attractive female host – of course, this is Italian TV after all – one Antonella Clerici. But AC is 46, is getting on a bit for a top female presenter’s slot over here, and it looks like she’s having to sport a fair bit of slap to maintain that youthful look. Now on Saturday she wore this red dress that showed off her bust to best effect. She’s got a lovely figure but this is a kid’s talent show and it did look a bit unseemly with her having to bend over to talk to these 10 year olds with her dollies joggling all over the place. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very much a fan of great tits but this just looked slightly wrong.
Maybe I’ve got the concept all wrong; perhaps it’s nothing to do with kid’s singing but the Italian equivalent of the lottery for men only – the task being to forecast which of her puppies would make a full appearance and in which minute. If it was one of Silvio’s channels I’d believe it.
Anyway the programme itself is rubbish. They just invite these precocious kids to sing these dramatic Whitney Houstonesque ballads about heartbreak, passion and desire. And they do it badly of course, really badly. All the other kids sing and dance along to the others’ songs. As do the female judges on the panel. There are lots of cut-aways to the panel and quite often there’s a stifled yawn which is lovely. Then there are the guest adult singers who come on to do a guest slot with the kids. A week ago it was Liza Minelli, before that Paul Anka. They must just think, Aw f*ck it, if they’re prepared to pay a fortune…’. But it does smack a bit of desperation. Anyway on Saturday it was some really old Italian bird with a face like she’s had 76 face lifts, and the last 23 have been failures. Very scary. There were also a couple of Italian male balladeers. When they weren’t performing the camera was also trained on them a lot of the time to gauge their reaction to their proteges’ performances. The kids get to do dozens of songs. Yet again there were plenty of Lord Andrew LW unintentional grimace moments.
What else? Oh they have dancers, mostly of the mock-ballet variety, dancing along to every song like Pan’s People doing their most literal interpretations of the lyrics. Very grim. Then loads of shots of members of the full orchestra – usually the drummer, lead guitarist and lead violinist – looking totally bored as they perform ‘And I Will Always Love You’ probably for the 38th time that day.
But I really like the production which demands that after every song, the whole of the audience (or maybe it’s just the first 10 rows or something) deliver a totally-spontaneous standing applause, irregardless of the performance. For the first 50 minutes or so the audience all look happy and full of enthusiasm and happy to do it. But it must be a bit like attending a Ladies evening at the Masons when you aren’t one and the constant toasts begin to pall. Gradually you see them grudgingly getting to their feet and just yawning. It’s hardest on the guest singers who are sat centre front row with the cameras on them constantly. They have to look interested throughout the saga and to lead the spontaneous standing ovations. The poor old bird the other night looked like her arthritis was troubling her after 5 minutes of this palaver and she had to be dragged to her feet on each occasion by burly assistants. She looked exhausted by the time I stopped watching.
I honestly couldn’t watch it all the way through – it was endless, so I don’t know how it ended. There was one cute little lad of around 10 who seemed to be everyone’s favourite and who got to sing and appear on stage at least 10 times. I was hoping he’d actually lose because you know that if he wins the competition, he’ll be washed up by the age of 13 and on Charlie by 15. Well I hope that’s not the case of course but you know what I mean. Either that or he’ll end up like Bonny Langford or that guy off Diff’rent Strokes – an eternal child.
Anyway i’ll check in next week and let you know how it develops…maybe. Here’s a view of Antonella looking very demure. You can see why she’s a natural choice to front a kids’ show eh…
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