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Attack of the karaoke queen

Not for the first time, and surely not for the last, we find our ribs tickled like the ivories of Elton John's piano by certain celebrities' Herculean capacity for being only dimly aware of their place in the grand scheme of things.

Honestly, some of them are so lacking in perspective it's a marvel that they manage to get through life without bumping into every lamp post and doorframe they encounter. Step forward, then, Mary Byrne, our first nominee for this year's You've Got To Be Bleeding Joking! award.

Sharing her thoughts about the Irish and British versions of The Voice with a red top this week, Mary argued what would have once seemed unthinkable, not to mention unsayable: there are too many talent shows on television.

Her reasoning seems to be that the glut of talent shows is having a counterproductive effect and actually clogging up the talent stream with too many below average wannabes.

"I think these shows, because there are so many now coming into the market, they should stop doing them every year," said Mary, who was knocked out of the 2010 semi-final of The X Factor, which was eventually won by Matt Cardle, a former painter and decorator so dull he should have been rechristened Matt Emulsion.

But what heresy is this? Whither the living-the-dream narrative outlined so vividly in Mary's ghosted autobiography? What about all the other would-be Marys behind checkouts and shop counters the length and breadth of just about everywhere?

Where are they to take their crumpled yearnings for stardom? How are they expected to get their shot at the medium time? Where are they to seek THEIR sharing-the-stage-of-the-Aviva-with-Neil-Diamond moment?

"They should make it a thing where they do it every three or four years, and more talent will come in then," explained the Ballyfermot belter, who's preparing to play dates with Phil Coulter, the producer of her album of cover versions. "Every year it overflows the market and people get bored."


Ah, now we get it. A filtering system based on supply and demand. A kind of eugenics of shiny floor TV shows, where only the supremely talented get the chance to play the fame game.

Even more heinously, Mary suggested that Simon Cowell -- without whose guiding hand and absolute aversion to anything remotely subtle or original her bawling jet-engine of a voice would still be stripping the flock paper off the walls of her local pub -- should give The X Factor a rest.

"Maybe Simon should take it away for a while and review it and bring it back brand new, I don't know. This is the 10th year now. There's too many of them."

Really, people: when a TV-karaoke-show contestant who didn't even win the damn thing starts complaining about there being too many TV karaoke shows around, there's only one appropriate response: maniacal laughter.

The evolution of the talent show-spawned celebrity has finally arrived at its dinosaurs-versus-comet moment.

>DISNEY DYNASTY It's often said opposites attract. Not in the case of Demi Lovato and Niall Horan, who are engaged in a mutual crush. They look made for each other -- but in sinister, troubling ways mankind has yet to fully comprehend.

Horan, as you're no doubt tired of hearing, is the Mullingar boy-man from irksome X Factor spawn One Direction. Lovato is a product of the Disney TV plastics factory, which, over the years, has manufactured a succession of pint-sized, moon-faced starlets (see also Miley Cyrus, Hilary Duff and Selena Gomez) via various perky teen sitcoms. The weird thing is, were it not for the fact that Horan was born in Joe Dolan country, he might have rolled off the Disney production line himself.

Consider the visual evidence: bland, pretty-boy face and blank, incurious eyes, topped off by the regulation-issue Bieberesque barnet.

It's chilling to contemplate what offspring might result from a physical union between Horan and Lovato. The news that the aforementioned Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber are also dating, presumably with a view to eventually mating, suggests we're headed for a dystopian future where television, music and movies have been enslaved by the missing link between humans and Cabbage Patch Kids.

>Browned off There was widespread surprise this week at the news that US cable giant HBO had offered Brendan O'Carroll a huge sum to make a Mrs Brown's Boys special -- and he'd turned them down.

When you think about it, though, it makes perfect sense. O'Carroll's lucrative mixture of drag act, old jokes, F-words and broad sexual stereotypes probably looked fresh and novel to HBO executives.

Unlike us, they've probably never heard of The Broadstone Inn in Phibsboro.