TV review: Britain’s Got Talent Live Final

Operatic boy band Collabro at the audition stage of ITV's Britain's Got Talent. They went on to win the competition on June 7. Photo: Thames TV/Syco/Rex Features

Nobody broke through security to throw eggs at Simon Cowell during this year’s Britain’s Got Talent Live Final, so the show had to manufacture its own controversial moment.

Flying in the face of all BGT etiquette, not to mention common politeness, Cowell X-buzzed a finalist during their performance! The other three judges gathered round him afterwards in the manner of angry villagers in a Frankenstein movie, but TV’s Mr Nasty was unrepentant.

“I didn’t think it was very good,” he told flamboyant male dance trio Yanis Marshall, Arnaud and Mehdi, whose unique selling point is to perform in vertigo-inducing high heels. “Besides,” Cowell added dismissively, stamping on their dreams of stardom with a figurative stiletto of his own, “you aren’t going to win.”

It was a brutal assessment, but far preferable to the panel’s recurring habit of confidently, and erroneously, assuring impressionable teenage performers that they have victory in the bag.

Last year’s supposed shoo-in for the top spot was 14-year-old comic, and eventual runner-up, Jack Carroll. This year, the poisoned chalice was passed to singing duo Bars and Melody. To be further endorsed by guest performer Cheryl Cole wasn’t so much the kiss of death than a smacker full on the lips from the Grim Reaper himself. Bars and Melody coped with the disappointment of third place with a maturity that belied their combined 28 years, but it made for uncomfortable viewing.

[pullquote]Cowell's brutal assessment was preferable to the judging panel’s recurring habit of confidently and erroneously assuring impressionable teenagers they had victory in the bag[/pullquote]

In fairness to the judging panel, they were telling each contestant in turn that they were going to win. “I think we’ve just seen the winning performance” was the most frequently repeated line of the evening, with “it’s been an amazing journey” running it a close second. There also seemed to be a consensus among the judging panel that this year’s 11 finalists constituted a particularly strong line-up.

Truth be told, Bars and Melody was one of only three genuine contenders, along with opera singer Lucy Kay and the eventual winners, vocal group Collabro. The rest were pretty much makeweights.

Impressionist Jon Clegg returned on a wild card, only to exit almost immediately. Clegg did a very good Sarah Millican, but the other characters in his repertoire were of a variable standard. Violinist Lettice Rowbotham – “ she’s crackers but lovely”, according to Dec – just didn’t have the necessary mass appeal.

Acrobatic salsa duo Paddy and Nico’s popularity was built more upon her moving life story than their onstage moves, but Paddy’s advanced years did inspire judge Amanda Holden to wax eloquent about the D-Day generation. The fact that Paddy would have been 10 at the time of the Normandy landings didn’t bother Holden in the slightest, or perhaps she just hadn’t done the maths.

Given the tabloid-fuelled xenophobic furore around the creeping incursion of foreign acts on to a show purportedly promoting British talent, Canadian escapologist and illusionist Darcy Oake’s chances of winning were never strong. His act was, though: great presentation, smooth patter and charismatic personality, and that’s before his performance even began. An upside-down Oake struggled out of a straitjacket, avoiding the crunching jaws of a human bear trap with just seconds remaining, thereby sparing the acts that followed the inconvenience of having to perform ankle-deep in human viscera.

Perhaps Oake should cut his losses and try out for Canada’s Got Talent.

Britain’s Got Talent Live Final, ITV, Saturday, June 7, 7pm