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TV: Royal Variety Performance 2008

December 19, 2008

Mark Owen from Take That

Mark Owen sings his little heart out at the Royal Variety Performance, originally uploaded by Thoroughly Good.

We swung by the Royal Variety Performance quite by accident at around about 9.20pm.

You’d think with such a grandly billed event like the Royal Variety Performance and me being such a BBC sponge, I’d have made a point of settling down with a sharp pencil and a reporter’s notebook in a bid to produce a achingly long blog posting in response to it.

The likes of the Royal Variety Performance does normally give me the fear. It is exactly the kind of programme which I know I remember enjoying as a kid possibly because I knew I could chance my arm and stay up just that little bit longer. I’d see stuff on TV I’d not normally see. At least, that how it seemed.

What a complete idiot. Watch it now and I realise it’s family entertainment, guaranteed to underwhelm by virtue of the fact that it has to appeal to as many people as it possibly can not least the member of the royal family trapped in the box conscious that the camera will focus on his or her reactions.

What we saw of the final 40 minutes was actually rather good, so good in fact we fell in to the oh-so-predictable-and-much-applauded TV technique employed by TV people the world over.

It works like this. “We’ll give them this act to watch. It will only last three minutes. As this particular act finishes their performance the viewer will end up thinking they’d quite like to see what’s coming on next just to compare.”

Picture the unsuspecting, slightly naiive viewer in his/her chair, slumped in front of the TV ready to be all scathing and dismissive when Take That come on. “I bet that Owen bloke is miming,” I chimed as I took another swig of beer.

Take That weren’t miming – at least Mark Owen wasn’t in Shine – Jimmy Carr was quite good, Peter Kay was brilliant (although frankly, I was just waiting for *that* Christmas song) and it was just about alright to see Graham Norton in drag for La Cage aux Folles

But most striking (in a slightly geeky way) was the TV presentation. There was something reassuringly retro about seeing something like the RVP – essentially a theatre performance filmed for TV – with it’s final curtain call and the royal line-up. Cameras glided around the auditorium, sweeping shots complimented the action and most of the musical numbers did look good on TV. They had obviously been produced for TV.

Why is this so important .. to me, at least? It’s important because given my weird obsession with the idea of us hosting the Eurovision Song Contest again, I’m naturally keeping an eye on what it might look like on TV if we ever got to win the contest. Obviously, the UK has some way to go yet (although news Gordon Brown has set a final troop withdrawal date might help us, who knows?) and in the event that we did win I’m sure there would be other people wheeled in to do the big job on the night.

Still, messrs Tumbridge, Smith and Bishop did a lovely job at the Royal Variety Performance. Well done them. *

* I should like to point out that I am in no way “crawling” up to producery-type people Tumbridge, Smith and Bishop. I don’t do that kind of thing.

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One Comment
  1. Chris Poppe permalink

    We watched bits, we skimmed bits… thought the Trocks, who live on stage are just about as funny as you can get, didn’t translate very well to the format; Take That’s Shine certainly was a star performance…and I went to bed singing “I am what I am” which slightly worried the wife….

    But yes I agree, the fascination with this show is rather like the Eurovision – it’s been going hundreds of years and every time you see it you connect somehow subliminally with all those previous performances. When it got boring (as these things always do) I recollected past turns by Frankie Howerd, Dickie Henderson and the like (yes I really am that old). No doubt it will continue as long as we have a monarchy.

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