Friday, 3 June 2011

Can this really be true about Britain's Got Talent?

After a blog post (now removed) claiming to be from a Sony Music executive, the national newspapers now report on behind-the-scenes allegations about Britain's Got Talent.

There are several allegations that, if true, are truly unpleasant. We all know when we watch a show like Britain's Got Talent or X-Factor that we are being manipulated. They tug on our heartstrings with sob stories that have nothing to do with talent, and have been shown in the past to be using electronics to 'fix' bad singing. However, what this article suggests goes much deeper than manipulating emotions.

There are two allegations I want to cover. One is that all the winners of Britain's Got Talent and X-Factor have been specially invited, rather than waiting in line for auditions. They are people the producers and/or Simon Cowell's company already knew about and were asked along to timed auditions with the panel, rather than having to queue with the rabble and be pre-auditioned by the producers. It is definitely true that there are such 'special' auditionees, which is not something the show tells us. But if they truly have always won, then it makes a farce of all those poor people queuing for hours to get in, and it misrepresents the process to the viewer.

The other allegation is that one of the contestants on this year's Britain's Got Talent was signed by Simon Cowell's company two years ago and his appearance on the show has been manipulated throughout with the aim of pushing him towards winning. If this is true (and I stress that I have not seen any evidence, but it ought to be possible to establish whether the contract exists), then this is intensely deceitful to the audience and surely must be very close to illegality, if it doesn't cross that line. This would change BGT from a talent show to a profit-making advert.

Some say this is just what you should expect from a show like this - get real. But I don't think that's right. Millions of pounds are being spent on voting, and this means any manipulation of the truth has to be taken very seriously. I very much hope that we will see these allegations clarified by an investigative journalist very soon. And if any of this is true, that appropriate action will be taken by the authorities. If it's not true, someone is engaging in serious muckraking - which is entirely possible. Either way, there is clear public interest in discovering where the facts lie.

Edited as original source disappeared and quoted now in national newspapers


  1. I shouldn't be at all surprised if the entire story hadn't been made up to ramp up interest in the show before this weekend's finals.

  2. It's possible, but I think the suggestions are too damaging to be an 'all publicity is good publicity' thing.

  3. What I hate about it is how it dominates the schedules. Every single night for the whole of half term the family is glued to this tripe.

  4. Quick Update - Simon Cowell totally denied the second allegation on TV tonight, and there is no reason to disbelieve him. Interestingly he didn't deny the first allegation.