Is 'Let It Shine' evidence that time is up for television talent shows?

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My disdain for television talent shows will be more than clear to anyone who has stumbled upon one of my many vitriolic rants aimed towards the X-Factor, most recently inspired by the woeful turn of events that saw Honey G actually be allowed to release a legitimate record in the British charts. However, quite rightly, the British public showed they weren’t in the joke by ensuring Honey G’s shoddy performance didn’t grace the top 100, also proving that perhaps I’m right.

I fear that this is the sentiment that is slowly being attached to all talent shows and the people who are being fed through them for our entertainment, disillusionment and boredom. However that hasn’t stopped BBC One trying to fill the void left by ‘The Voice’ by filling it with ‘Let It Shine’ a show being helmed by a disgruntled ex-X Factor judge and boy band supremo Gary Barlow, a previous X-Factor contestant who now performs in musicals Amber Riley, an ex Eastender (and member of Spandau Ballet) Martin Kemp who has no association with X-Factor that I know of. Oh, and Danni Minogue, who has of course been a judge on the X-Factor.

Okay, so my dislike of the X-Factor may have given me some negative bias towards ‘Let It Shine’ given that most of the people involved were previously associated with the show in some way but I’m not totally irrational. I will give anything a chance, and to be honest this looked like it could’ve been a lot of fun, especially with Graham Norton and Mel Giedroyc both excellently reliable hosts of other shows who manage to elicit a chuckle from me every now and then.


However once the credits had rolled on ‘Let It Shine’ it because increasingly clear that the genre of ‘television talent shows’ is scraping the barrel so much for unique and inventive ideas that we’ve ended up with a show that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Seriously after watching the show, which narrowly beat out ITV’s newly acquired ‘The Voice’ in the ratings, it wasn’t even clear what the point of it was, why the judges were there, what was going to happen next, it especially wasn’t clear what the weird arbitrary star based ratings system was for or achieved.

But after some extensive research online I have discovered that ‘Let It Shine’ a talent show named after a ‘Take That’ song, helmed by Gary Barlow, one of the few ‘Take That’ members still in the band, and opened with said ‘Take That’ member singing naked in a shower, is actually searching for five male leads to star in a musical written by Gary Barlow from ‘Take That’ where they’ll play a five-piece boyband called ‘The Band’, not ‘Take That’, by letting at least fifteen out of 20 stars shine to get them through to the next round. And if after reading this you’re not sure how to take that (get it) then trust me, you’re not alone.

In fact MSN UK reported that a flurry of watchers of the show took to Twitter to express their complete confusion as to what was unfolding in front of them. Admittedly, as you may have noticed from my slightly tongue in cheek approach above, the show does explain everything throughout, it’s just not massively straightforward or clear.

I also need to give the show some credit for not resorting to the ridiculous antics of the X-Factor by spotlighting people who actually aren’t very talented in the field they’re trying to find talent for. Although it does resort to clichéd standing ovation ending that talent shows are saturated with, for the undeniably talented Jason Brock, who I imagine will end up playing Gary Barlow.


So once you get passed the idea that this show is one massive ego trip for Gary Barlow, here are some positives to be had here. Although the idea that this is an ego trip for Gary, or an attempt to prolong the relevancy of a dwindling ‘Take That’ would be totally wrong because they’re searching for members of ‘The Band’ not ‘Take That’ and they’re going to be in a fictional musical about the fictitious ‘The Band’ and not about the life of ‘Take That’. Whoever is playing ‘Not-Robbie’ is definitely not going to leave ‘The Band’ to pursue a successful solo career. Sure, Mark and Howard turn up, but it’s not about ‘Take That’.

And with that in mind I’m going to continue to give ‘Let It Shine’ a chance, let’s just hope that whoever Gary chooses for his musical has it, you know what I mean, that special something that makes them stand out, the X Factor, the Voice. Also, any comparison to anything Andrew Lloyd Webber as done is purely accidental.