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TV review: Lord Webber's Superstar
The panel of ITV1's Superstar, including Lord Webber. Image: ITV
Andrew Lloyd Webber's Superstar doesn't break the mould or try anything new. But the talent on display in this ITV1 show is very impressive. In addition, it's a certainty a dog won't win.
It has to be ex-G4 member Jonathan Ansell's amazing rendition of Somebody To Love. Talk about singing your heart out: they should have had a cardiothoracic surgeon standing by the stage just in case.
Putting three out of four Rock Tenors through and not letting Gareth Richards join them was very harsh. Even Mel C looked guilty, and she's responsible for songs like Wannabe.
As lead roles go, you can't really get any more high profile than playing Jesus Christ. So it comes as no surprise that a wide range of people stepped forward to audition for Superstar.
A very wide range.
Tall men, thin men, dreadlocked men and men with a look of such feverish zeal in their eyes they'd pass for cult leaders. There haven't been so many people on stage who thought they were Jesus since Live Aid.
"Even women auditioned, though none got through."
Even women auditioned, though none got through. It seems the world isn't ready for a female Jesus yet. Or at least, Andrew Lloyd-Webber wasn't.
He lurked behind the scenes, vetting candidates over a live video feed like Gollum searching for the One Ring. "They need a voice of concrete!" he shouted at one point.
To be fair, it can't be easy listening to hundreds of people butchering your music, which is probably why Kelly Clarkson rarely buys audience tickets for X Factor.
The reason for Lord Webber's frequent bursts of anger? Turns out many of the hopefuls tried to wow the judges (Mel C, David Grindrod and Jason Donovan) with the most difficult song in Jesus Christ Superstar: Gethsemane.
If you've never heard it, just imagine a man with a beard delivering the 'whaaaaaaa- BodyFORM!' line from that old advert while standing on a rock.
Who's got the crucifix factor?
Virtually none of the auditionees could hit that 'Bodyform' note, not even the concrete-voiced Jonathan Ansell from G4, the operatic group act who finished second in X Factor way back in 2004.
"Virtually none of the auditionees could hit that 'Bodyform' note."
Despite dropping the ball in the first round of auditions, he was put through to the next stage and joined 103 other hopefuls at the 02 Academy in Brixton.
To be fair, he redeemed himself by belting out a stunning version of Queen's Somebody To Love.
However, they say the path of stardom is paved with bad decisions.
Before the last echoes of Somebody To Love had even died away, we discover that Jonathan is contracted to appear in rival musical, A Tale of Two Cities.
"Your name's on the poster," pointed out a very disapproving Jason Donovan. "People are buying tickets based on the fact you're going to be in it."
Though to be fair, if you buy tickets for something because of an ex-G4 man, it's possible you shouldn't be allowed to make decisions.
Despite being rumbled, Jonathan begged to be put through anyway which made for vaguely awkward viewing. We didn't find out Jonathan's fate in the end. Maybe he'll be told he can go through if he performs a few miracles, like getting the rain to stop.
The rest of the auditions were more standard telly talent show fare, but we did meet a group called the Rock Tenors who auditioned together, but only three were put through. It's unlikely their band will survive the competitive process. Superstar will probably turn out to be their version of Yoko Ono.
And there was untrained builder Steve - his friends encouraged him to try out. Steve went through to the next round despite his AC:DC cover sounding like a bagful of forks in a blender.
Talent shows are two-a-penny these days, but Superstar was definitely entertaining. The performers were likeable and - for the most part - could sing. However, the format as a whole felt a bit tired, played out and occasionally manipulative; I'm not sure Jesus would have approved of poor Gareth from the Rock Tenors being sent home.
- Verdict: It passes the time agreeably enough. Besides, Lord Webber's tantrums are worth the watch
TV quotes of the week - Superstar
"I think Jesus could only have been ginger. And if he wasn't ginger he probably felt some of the same persecution we face." - That's the spirit!
"I'm here today, auditioning for Jesus/ I'm going to win, you'd better believe this." - Unsurprisingly, this rapping Jesus hopeful didn't get through.
"You need to be focused. Jesus was focused." - Jason Donovan wins line-of-the-show.
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