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Horror of TV world created by Cowell

Is it for this that The South Bank Show died? So that the toxic influence of the Church of Cowellology can spread like gangrene through the ITV schedules?

Sooner or later, every Simon Cowell acolyte gets an ITV vehicle of their own. Sharon Osbourne had a chat show. Cheryl Cole had her Big Night In. Piers Morgan gets to slime his way around the world's capitals of undeserved wealth, rubbing up against limousines and dry-humping millionaires' legs.

There's even talk of hard-faced, dead-eyed bimbo Dannii Minogue being given a show of her own. Where will it all end -- with Louis Walsh presenting News at Ten and Jedward doing the weather? But before that happens, it's the turn of Amanda Holden, she of the shiny, weirdly immobile face. If you could Photoshop actual people as opposed to their photographs, Holden is what you'd get.

In Amanda Holden's Fantasy Lives, the Britain's Got Talent judge gets to "live her dreams" by trying her hand at different jobs. It's an idea that's as old as the hills, reconfigured as a stinking vanity project (Holden is credited as executive producer) and follows on from a 2009 programme wherein she pretended to be a midwife for five days.

This was more befitting her, er, talents; she was off to become a dancer at Paris's famous Lido club. Holden's reaction walking into the place was hysterical. "Omigod, how glamorous is THIS? It's like somewhere you'd see gangsters!" (No, love; that would be a council housing estate.)

"Oh my lord, look at THAT!" (I think it was a chandelier. Or possibly a lightbulb.)

"Wow, this is just amazing!" (She may have spotted her reflection in a mirror.)

The fact that, at 5ft 5ins, Holden was way too short to be a Lido dancer didn't stand in her way. After all, who would want to prevent the woman whose sitcom The Big Top gave the rest of us nightmares living her dream?

It was the usual guff. Amanda struggles to master the steps. Amanda gets better. Amanda learns the steps. Amanda triumphs on the night. Or at least that was the illusion constructed here.

Judging from the few fleeting shots we saw of her on stage, jerking robotically around like a battery-powered munchkin amid a swirl of feather-bedecked dancers twice her height, she looks like she'd have trouble getting through a doorway safely. Holden discovered one of the dancers had passed up a place in medical school to work at the Lido. "So, a lot of the girls prefer dancing to brain surgery," she cackled. Now THERE'S an idea for a series: Amanda Holden's Fantasy Brain Surgery. She could start by operating on herself.

There's only one good thing about Jonathan Ross quitting the BBC: the Tuesday night Film programme might finally get a worthy successor to Barry Norman, which means I can start watching it again. I've always liked Ross -- and I like him even more in light of all the manufactured controversy over Sachsgate-- but he was never a good fit for this gig. The actual movie reviews are disposed of with machine-gun speed and there's far too much Hollywood puffery and padding. Bring on Mark Kermode.

STACEY'S STARS

Amanda Holden's Fantasy Lives *

Film 2010 **


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