Sky1 to launch cruise ship-based talent show

Multi-talented entertainers will compete to win the chance to be the headline act on a cruise ship, in a new reality talent show commissioned by Sky1.

Called Show Boaters, the 20-part series is being made by Jamie Oliver’s company Fresh One Productions and will see ten contestants who can sing, dance and act compete against each other to prove they have what it takes to be the ship’s star entertainer.

Full details of what format the series will take have yet to be finalised, but it is understood that the contestants will be split into two teams to prepare for a weekly show.

This performance will help inform which contestants move forward to the next stage of the competition, with a resident choreographer and vocal coach, as well as the boat’s passengers, likely to decide who they want to go through.

Casting for the series is still taking place, and series producer Angela Norris told The Stage: “We are looking for a whole variety of people who could make it as an entertainer. They will live, breathe and sleep what it is like to be an entertainer on a cruise. It’s a journey following the contestants and how they are whipped into shape, looking at whether or not their dreams are fulfilled.”

Norris added that she was looking for triple threat performers who could sing, dance and act, and was seeking a wide age range including artists with either “raw talent” or those with professional training.

Whether or not the winning act will continue to work on the cruise ship once the series has concluded has not been determined, because the cruise company participating in the show is yet to be confirmed. Norris said she was hopeful the show would provide a “raft of opportunities” for the winner.

As well as following the contestants rehearsing and fine-tuning their skills on the ship, the series will also show them undertaking other duties, including serving in the restaurants, looking after passengers and cleaning the swimming pool.

Fresh One Productions creative director David Wise said the show would offer “a fascinating insight into cruise ship life”.

The programme’s launch has been welcomed by cruise ship entertainers. Gary Williams, who has performed his own show on cruise ships for almost 20 years and starred in the West End’s Rat Pack, said it would teach the contestants about the reality of a career as a performer.

“I have often wondered how some X Factor or Pop Idol winners would cope with having to perform their own 50-minute solo show to an international audience. On many luxury cruise lines the standard of entertainment is very high, and it sounds like this competition will prepare the hopefuls for the demands and realities of a long-term career on the stage,” he said.

In 1997, the BBC screened a reality series called The Cruise, following the employees of a liner, which saw singer Jane McDonald find fame as a result.

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