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What is talent anyway?

June 8, 2010

Probably it means having the ability to do something better than the vast majority can. Fact is, everybody is good at something, and there is always somebody who can do something that you cannot and vice versa. Therefore, is it right for somebody like me (who is not a performer) to sit and watch “Britain’s Got Talent” and think that the answer is mostly – on this demonstration – “no?”

As somebody who depends on new talent to produce work that ticket buyers are willing to pay to see, maybe I am allowed to make the odd comment. First off, the obvious and right people won. The second Spelbound chucked one of their number over the judges’ desk at an altitude of at least ten feet, the result was never in doubt. Everybody else on that stage had also doubtless spent millions of hours attempting to perfect their acts – but nobody else thought of pulling the ‘human cannonball’ trick – thus proving the man in Spelbound was literally of a different calibre. Had that elderly singer had the idea first, no doubt she would have beaten the gymnasts… but she didn’t.

I was left with three questions, though. First, how do you get Spelbound to stretch a few minutes into a full show – and what happens as the team get older and the show wants to continue? Second, why were there so many street dance acts and no comedians bar one impressionist? Comedy is hard to put over at an audition, and the audition selection process itself may be pretty dodgy if a newspaper expose is to be believed, but still… we are a nation that loves to laugh, so where were the jokers?

Finally: Is this really the best we can do? Fairly entertaining, but is the standard of the acts chosen really representative of the very best performers out there, and should we be interested in that, or simple entertainment value only? Excellence is part of talent, how big should that part be?

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