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Thursday, 14 October 2010

Its that time of year again...

Yes, the time of every year when I get an email from some poor little researcher who has been told to source some acts for the upcoming season of the costcutter of light entertainment: Britain's Got Talent.

Yes. Every year they ask. Every year I tell them to go away, and every next year they ask again.

For context, here's what I got a couple of years ago:

Hi Mat,

I hope you are well. I have just seen your website and watched videos on your amazing act, and therefore thought I would let you know, in the hope that you might want to apply, that ITV1's hit entertainment show, 'Britain's Got Talent', is back for a third series and this time it's bigger than ever!

Hosted by Ant and Dec; the show gives entertainers the opportunity to showcase their talents in front of a panel of three of the most influential people in the industry: Amanda Holden, Piers Morgan and Simon Cowell. The show is open to absolutely anyone – any talent, any age - simple as that! Over the past two years we've had a huge variety of acts apply including comedians, ventriloquists, dancers, magicians, acrobats and animal acts.

The last series of Britain’s Got Talent was watched by nearly 15 million viewers and is hailed as one of the most successful talent shows of this century giving many acts some great exposure, an amazing platform to launch from as well as turning some acts international! We are now back with our brand new third series and we’re looking for a brand new winner. Auditions have already began and we are still receiving thousands of applications every week. So why not come and audition and show Britain what YOU have to offer. We are especially keen this year to make sure that we have the best variety talent in Britain on the show and from what I have read about you, you are one of the best.

Many thanks for your time, and the best of British to you,

Fairly nice, polite email. Although I take issue with the use of the CAPS. Also notice that they mention the huge variety of acts that they've had apply. Not win. Apply. Because we all know that only a singer or dancer will win because Simon Cowell needs to have music royalties coming off the back of the show. (Little known fact - the dancers that get to the late stages of the show get given Cowell-owned music to dance to. It's picked for them.)

Anyway, so here's my reply:


Thanks for the interest. Whenever a new season of your show comes
around I get an email like this, regular as clockwork!

I'm not interested. If I'm being honest I find the idea of my life's
work being judged by people like Piers Morgan who know and care
nothing about the genre in which I work, but who are simply
interested in furthering their own shallow media profile, just
about the most uninteresting and unpleasant proposition I
can imagine. I wish that there were variety shows on television,
like the ones I have performed in across Europe and Asia, but
there are not.

All we have are tacky, predictably exploitative talent shows
which cheapen everyone involved, and variety in general.

Also, I'm simply too busy. I work pretty much constantly,
sometimes alongside previous winners of America's got talent,
ironically. They won their place, I earned mine, but we all
ended up at about the same level of success. I'm happy with that.

I look forward to getting another email from someone on your
staff around this time next year, when I can respond in a
similarly snarky manner.

And so it goes on every year - they email me, I tell them to get lost in a way that is, at least, entertaining for me. It's as close as the show gets to being entertaining for me.

Which brings us to this years' email:

This email is confidential and may well also be legally privileged.
If you have received this email in error, you are in notice of its status.
Please notify the sender immediately by reply e-mail and then delete
this message from your system. Please do not copy or use it for any
purposes, or disclose its contents to any other person: to do so
could be a breach of confidence.
Thank you for your co-operation.

Any views expressed in this message are those of the individual
sender and may not necessarily reflect the views of The RTL Group
or its associated companies.

I've taken out the researchers name, but yeah, that's the whole email I got from them. Completely blank except for the legal notice at the bottom of the page. Which I am ignoring.

So I sent them back a blank email of my own, and then got this:

Hi Mat,

Sorry about the blank emai, I am currently working on Britain's Got Talent. We will be holding auditions in Manchester towards the end of October and carrying on around the UK until the middle of December. I just wondered if you would like to apply for the show. I stumbled accross your website and you are exactly what the judges are looking for this year.

It would be brilliant if you would give me a call on the number below to chat about it and I can let you know about the forthcoming auditions I have attached our poster to this email, which has a direct link to our website where people can apply and register.

EVERYONE is welcome!!

Do let me know if you have any problems opening it.

Many kind regards and best wishes,

So, no "Best of British" this year, but they've continued the use of CAPS - used here, it seems, to reassure me that they'll take ANYONE, which they see as a plus, but I see as a minus.

My reply:

Thanks for the email.

I wonder how I'm "exactly what you're looking for", since BGT has always been won by either a singer or a dancer, rather than a cynical, dry and introspective variety comedian.

I joke, for the lols.

I've recieved an email like this (in fact, *suspiciously* like this) every year, inviting me to embark what would no doubt be a moving personal journey to your show. Every year, I poiltely (and I hope, with a degree of wit) decline, citing the following reasons:

(a) You show is awful. Just awful.

(b) I'm a little busy with actual, real, paid work for real audiences who have paid to see me.

(c) See reason (a)

Sorry if I seem unduly rude, but strangely, I have no desire to be fodder for three talentless, witless and crass judges in your shiny floored light entertainment slaughterhouse.

I look forward to your email this time next year.

I don't post this to seem like a grumpy git, but if that's how it comes across - to paraphrase Bill Hicks - it's because I am.

It makes me so sad that the pretty much the only place to see variety on British TV is such a tacky meat market talent show - especially when it's such a hot ticket in so many live venues at the moment. I have such happy memories of the shows of my childhood that inspired me to choose the life I have - shows hosted by people with a knowledge and love of the medium - people like Paul Daniels and Bob Monkhouse, who would, each week, bring the most amazing comedy and variety performers onto the little screen in my parents front room in North London.

People who say that a straight variety show wouldn't work on TV these days know nothing, about variety or TV. You'd just have to make it well. Craft it with love and style and substance, and you could show a whole new generation of viewers that amazing, hilarious, death-defying and beautiful things created by devoted, driven, creative professionals that are going on in variety theatres and clubs all over the world - including pretty much all of the cities that the BGT cattle calls will be held in.


Scott The Magician said...

Why would they put on a variety show with acts they have to pay for? Now they can get them all for free!

I've heard Germany's Got Talent has paid professionals to go on their show.

Until all professionals stop working on these shows for free they will continue to exploit us.

Yes, we did it in Holland and it was a mistake. But we thought we needed to be seen on TV in order to sell tickets to our theater show. Sadly it is the only TV show that has variety acts.

Now we're smarter. Slightly...

P.S. Number of bookings we got from the show: Zero.

the tartan trickster said...

Great post Mat. Made me laugh and yes I remember sitting in frnt of our first black and white tv, watching Morecombe and Wise...halcion memories. Love the bolg by the way...

James James

Anonymous said...

Funny portal

Anonymous said...

I appreciate such kind of post

Brad Weston said...

Hilarious! I, too get these types of requests from America's Got Talent each year. This last season I got 5 calls from 5 different people. I amused myself by asking for more information, so that they had to keep typing personal letters to me. Your humorous responses were pretty funny.

Dave Knox said...

Fecking brilliant blog - summed it exactly! :)

MFX said...

I got an email from them asking if our juggling club would like to be part of a promotion ofering free classes. I pointed out that most juggling clubs are run for fun, not profit, the first visit is free anyway, we don't run classes as such and it's only £3 a night after the first visit anyway. They never replied :-)

Tigz said...

Hilarious blog post! I look froward to reading next years updates!