I’m certain that if Tommy Cooper had sought to launch his career on Britain’s Got Talent, he would not have made it through the auditions.
The buzzers would have blared less than 30 seconds into his routine as talent-spotting titans like Amanda Holden and David Hasselhoff dismissed him as too nervous and incompetent.
And what chance would he have stood, anyway, against warbling cutie-kids and ‘street dancers’ who indulge in what can only be described as choreographed epilepsy?
There was a time when television talent shows discovered genuine and enduring stars like Les Dawson, Marti Caine, Jim Davidson and Lenny Henry.
They may not have been to everyone’s taste but all enjoyed (or are still enjoying) substantial careers.
Britain really has got talent, but it won’t be found in the ranks of deluded wannabes or vulnerable kids whose scant gifts are desperately inflated by pushy parents before they sag like a punctured beach-ball under unforgiving scrutiny.
BGT’s main problem is that it doesn’t know whether to be a talent show or a platform for freaks and misfits, of the type who believe there is a living to be earned from tottering around a stage for two minutes with an arthritic dog.
There is no such thing as undiscovered talent which suddenly bursts on to the scene having been honed by someone singing into a hairbrush in front of their bathroom mirror for years on end.
Susan Boyle’s image is that of a social sclerotic, whose self-esteem had been eaten away from the inside by a debilitating sense of inadequacy and a consuming shyness.
But she had been performing in pubs and clubs around the east coast of Scotland for years before she came to the attention of Cowell and co.
If BGT is to survive in any meaningful way, I suggest the following production changes be made before the next series:
1 Nobody under the age of 16 is allowed to take part.
2 Clubs and holiday centres are scoured for performers who have done their apprenticeship and developed genuine potential.
3 The use of cliches like ‘you really nailed that song,’ and ‘you are what this show is all about’ are made punishable by death.
4 Amanda Holden and David Hasselhoff are banished forever to botox heaven.