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I’d Do Anything for You (2) – hooked! Gotta get a life.

Andrew Lord Rubber - enthroned

Andrew Lord Rubber - enthroned

(In re-tracing this journey I won’t cheat and change my predictions at the time)

I’d Do Anything For You (2)

Ok. I confess. I’m hooked. I’ll Do Anything For You has now become required viewing. Even for curmudgeonly moaning cynics like me. Thankfully the style of presentation is no longer tart-it-up and tit-it-up as the first one was. Director Nikki Parsons appears to have realised that with so much real natural talent to show us – she can stop patronising us and disrespecting the girls/women and just let it out.

True my two female family style-gurus are still pretty unimpressed with many of the ‘frocks’ which seem at times to be in a kind of composite style we might call baby-doll-wedding-cake. And we all wondered whether the make-up artist for last night’s show (19th April) got progressively smashed as the show went on so that when poor Francesca and Rachel went on national TV with cheeks so red they looked as if Barry Humphries had caught them unawares in their dressing rooms. Though women’s make-up is an arcane mystery beyond the intellectual and emotional compass of we mere ordinary mortal men, like shoes and handbags and George Clooney, even I could see the make-up artist must have fallen to the floor in a drunken stupour to have let the last two contestants on stage. Both should have sung ‘We’ve Brought In The Clowns.’

That said – the sheer growth and development of the talent of these totally different likeable young women week by week is absolutely absorbing television. Yes I still feel uneasy when every banal pronouncement by the Lord Rubber and the panel is received by the breathless young Nancy-wannabees with the unconstrained cosmic excitement of dinner with Johnny Depp or the devastated, inconsolable look of someone who has just set fire to a winning lottery ticket. But as we see more and more of the commitment of the judges and professional coaches during each week to prepare for the next show, we realise first that these women have an honourable ambition, are being given wonderful training they would never have otherwise got, and this is genuinely professional commitment on everyone’s part. As we inevitably see the personal challenges of each contestant each week, we do have a fascinating insight into not just their professional growth but their personal development as well. There is of course an element of voyeurism about this but now the tone of the show and the background stories is done with some discretion and respect – it is unmissable.

Gotta hand it to the good lord (the rest of the people in the show should stop saying that in capital letters) he’s a PR genius. He offered his words of infinite wisdom ensconced in Las Vegas last night – “on business” we were told. You bet your ass he was selling the show to the Yanks – it could make him more money than any of his own shows. So if we are all spared more of those plink-plonky can’t-get-it-out-of-my-head tunes – everyone’s a winner.

Denise Van Outen is deliciously feisty, sexy and clearly knows what she is talking about. Even the infuriatingly cheerful John Barrowman has kicked a little of his alliteration addiction habit. If he now can just tone down the Gertrude Steinish – “you’re a winner, a winner, a WINNER!!!!!!! We’ll all be grateful. Barry Humphries consciously or sub-consciously still can’t keep his would-be Lothario lust entirely latent, but again has played Fagin many times and knows his stuff. In fact the panel side of this show has improved enormously – it really is a bit like sitting in on a genuinely tough but fair professional audition.

As with all these shows one wonders how the contestants deal with the aftermath but there must be worse things than to have had a definitive crack at your dream, with absolutely the best possible one-to-one professional training and personal emotional support. As the two previous shows demonstrated, not only the winner gets work in the profession all are desperate to enter.

The Olivers are mercifully exempted from the worst aspects of the vote-me-off process. On screen anyway both ALW and Sir Coconut Macaroon look to be very good with them. And of course they are an absolute delight to watch – socking out song after song with all the aplomb of long-term pros.

OK I know – can’t write this without a few specifics. So, and I can’t believe either that I’m writing this, or the hours of study and careful analysis and deliberation that lies behind it:

Niamh – Mesmeric. Made me cry this week. I used to do some filming and sometimes you see someone the camera cannot move off. She is the most physically comfortable on stage and moves with a natural grace remarkable as apparently she is very nervous. Maybe not Nancy but an even BIGGER name – if in the end that is what she wants.

Rachel – The best actress by far. Superb voice and instinctively connects with the lyrics and the audience in the way DVO and smiley John keep bangin’ on about.

Jessie – Up to last week, the one to beat. But moves awkwardly and completely changes herself with singing out of the side of her mouth – which irritates and changes her personality. Needs a song she has to act – to prove she can.

Sarah – Now ‘Trilby’ to SJ’s Svengali after he changed her hair and coached her a bit. Watch this space. Improving all the time. Sort of Elaine Page-ish.

Jodie – What can we say. Loud, brash, in-yer-face Blackpool barmaid. But the lady can sing and perform. Have a hunch she’s a bit too traditionally right for the Nancy ALW is looking for. None of the fragility that for example Shani Wallis had when she played the role many years ago.

Francesca – Obviously experienced pro. Very W.E. Musical performer. Unusual voice that doesn’t work with all songs. Looks as if she’s gonna pick a fight with you – which might be right for Nancy.

Keisha – probably the brightest girl on the show. Will probably become a doctor or a lawyer and always look back on this little flirtation with showbiz with affection. Probably sing-off this week.

Ashley – the weakest one left. This week’s casualty I suspect, unless Keisha goes. Moves awkwardly and seems to be as good as she can get while the others have room to grow.

Samantha – Competes with Niamh for a very young – as Dickens wrote her – Nancy. Nice voice but no contest against Niamh. She is just beginning to learn to express what Niamh does instinctively.

There you go – I’m lost, addicted and fascinated. God I’ll have to try and find an abstruse, intellectual, pompous, deeply depressing outer-Mongolian Art House movie to analyse to extinction in order to recover my self-important critical qualities.

Bugger that – this is great fun. If you haven’t been watching it start now. I still think though that with those suits we should blast Graham Norton into Geo-stationary orbit as a visible-beyond-the-known-universe signal to life on other planets. The thought that the first human being aliens might meet was Graham Norton offers all kinds of delicious possibilities. Who knows – they might decide not to stay. Especially given those suits.

(Zettel 2008)

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