HERE’S THE THING...
Right then, guys and girls, little people of the world, domestic pets and any aliens that may be reading. I’ve finally come up with it. ‘It’ being the thing I’ve been trying to come up with for ages. My feeding-in process has consisted of 15 years of wonderment at the genius of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?. Such a simple format: so clever, so bombproof. I always wanted to emulate it, and though I lived in hope, I never thought I actually would. And here’s what I’ve come up with…
Because I’m a light-entertainment sort of guy at heart, because I’m so against making kids cry on telly in the name of ratings, it seems my industrious Numskulls have come up with something that’s sort of the opposite of that. So what is it? All right, enough of the tease. Without any further ado, ladies and gentlemen, please get ready for the arrival of… Sing For Your Supper.
Here’s what will happen: Seven people will be plucked from an arena audience of thousands, and just moments later will be asked to sing live on telly, accompanied by a full live band. That’s real musicians playing real instruments; no backing tracks. But also no queues, no weeks of endless auditions, no tragedy dressed up as triumph — just a good old time had by all.
What will the seven singers win? Supper on us, straight after the show. The seven suppers will range from fish and chips around the corner (for the least-best performance) to a meal at the finest restaurant in the area (for whoever gets the biggest thumbs-up). But that’s it. There is no more. No endless, on-screen auditions. No PRspinning headlines about the tragedy or tumult of the contestants’ backgrounds. And most important of all, there’ll be NO CRUEL TEARS and no shattering of dreams leading to untold psychological and emotional damage. We’ll never have heard of any of the singers before the show. And we’ll most likely never hear of them again. Because it’s all just for fun. Hey, do you remember that? Entertainment for the sheer hell of it? No one gets hurt, no one feels dirty or less of a person after watching it. And everyone wants to be there, because nobody loses and everybody wins. It’s the same idea that was at the heart of Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush.
Sing For Your Supper will also be unique in that it’ll begin an hour before we go live on the air. To my knowledge this has never been done before. The action will start straight away, as we begin to pluck out that night’s singers from the audience right there and then. Once chosen, our Magnificent Seven will have just two backstage run-throughs of the given song. While they ready themselves, the host (me, I think) will carry on inviting people up on stage to sing with zero practice. Should any of these have-a-go heroes prove super-talented, they’ll be thrown into the mix too. Why? Because a programme that’s so sure of itself can cope with anything thrown in at the last minute. By the time we go live, Sing For Your Supper will be hitting the ground running, as it’ll technically be halfway through the night’s events. No other TV show has done this before. From the moment the show begins, we’re on the way to discovering who’s going to eat what, where and with whom that night. Like most of what’s good about life, it’s gorgeously simple, it’s totally innocent and it’s positive.
It’s also the show I wish I could have pitched to my beloved BBC but they’d already committed to The Voice. It’s less than half the price, 10 times the fun and it euphorically eschews the delusory promise of fame and fortune. No one is going to go home disappointed from a night at Sing For Your Supper, because even if you mess up, you get to be on the telly and have a slap-up meal (or a bag of fish and chips) over which to laugh about it. Plus, from a corporate point of view, because it’s an original format, it can be sold around the world and pay for itself a thousand times over.
Essentially, Sing For Your Supper is the anti-X Factor. So it was important that I take it to a channel that agrees it’s time to push the boundaries and draw a new line in the showbiz sand. Who wouldn’t love the chance to sing in front of an arena audience, while being broadcast live on the telly, with little or no risk to their privacy or sanity? Just the once, just to know how it feels?
And so it’s done. Sing For Your Supper has been demanded by the entertainment gods. Because everyone knows from the off that there’ll be no pseudo-life-changing carrots dangled in front of their noses, if you do get chosen, great. And if you don’t, no big deal. No one gets hurt. Everyone goes home smiling. Now, that’s entertainment... And on which channel will this little gem be broadcast? Ah, for that, you’ll have to wait and see.