Thank the Lord for Andrew Lloyd Webber! Why? Without him the cognoscenti would have no taste barrier with which to divinate between middle-class ephemera and true art in the world of music and theatre.
Now he acts as a new separator - that between good rubbish and bad rubbish on the telly.
Comedy duo 'Armstrong and Millar' once devised a sketch wherein ITV relayed a Saturday evening show of an old man being washed in a basin. The BBC copies the idea, yet we see ITV execs ogling a tape of their version, laughing that the bath is angled differently and that there are two washers with shorter loofers. This was an allegory of what the BBChave consistently done in the wake of ITV's revamp of Saturday night and the talent show, with 'Popstars' etc.
'Fame Academy' was a dirge, a school curriculum of a show with a wallpaper-paste-pale imitation of Simon Cowell in the Spock-like Hutchie-boy form of Richard Parks. So misguided and convoluted were the rules - making Gyles Brandreth's erstwhile foray into OppKnox-Game-show 'Star Quality' (which retained rules unlikely to be deciphered by the Enigma-crackers) - that newcomers (David Sneddon) or overrated acts (That blonde, spike-haired girl-loving girl one) won through.
There was never a term for the BBC reality trough - all programmed by the entertainments manager for Blackpool Tower apparently - until now. Call them 'Webbers'.
Like his and Ben Elton's recent addiction to turning concept albums or back-catalogues of jaded stadium-fillers into musicals, 'How to Solve a Problem Like Maria' takes the archetypal values of 'Popstars' and applies it to Webber's audition process for his re-staging of 'The Sound of Music'.
There are several problems with the realisation of the concept:
1. A toweringly dull wallow in Hell for anybody who does not like the dubious Nuns 'n' Nazis musical.
2. The ubiquitous 'Dorian Gray in Reverse' presence of Graham Norton whom the BBC paid over four million quid for two years ago and therefore plug into any show their Blackpool entertainments manager puts on in the Saturday night slot.
3. The pie-full-of-worms with maggot gravy unappeal of Lloyd Webber laid bare, bringing one to think that they seriously miscast the original X-Men movie when they overlooked him for the part of 'Toad'.
4. The rigged game - rumours have already sprung, like a myriad leaks from a burst Greg Dyke - that friends and family of producers and researchers make-up the whittled-down finalists. The uber-flaw of all may well be - unproved I must say at this stage - that Lloyd Webber had his 'Maria' in mind already and this excuse for a TV show is, well, just an excuse for a TV show.
5. Uber-capitalist Webber given free reign to plug a show he will profit from and which may not remunerate the BBC for its trouble.
Viewers should stay away in droves from 'HDYSAPLM' and its pant-soilingly smug title. Away out and play, its sunny out!
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