Fiona Sturges on All To­gether Now

The Guardian - The Guide - - Inside -

T“This is no or­di­nary singing com­pe­ti­tion,” prom­ises the voiceover at the start of All To­gether Now (Satur­day, 7.15pm, BBC One), in which mem­bers of the pub­lic honk their way through pop clas­sics in the hope of trouser­ing £50,000 and a selfie with Geri “Gin­ger Spice” Horner.

Mere months af­ter the cho­ral con­test Pitch Bat­tle, the Gary Bar­low-mas­ter­minded Let It Shine and Sky’s Sing: Ul­ti­mate A Cap­pella limped off un­der a cloud of poor rat­ings comes this dis­mal six-parter try­ing to plug the Satur­day night en­ter­tain­ment gap. Quite pos­si­bly the most half-ar­sed tal­ent show of all time, All To­gether Now is an il­lus­tra­tion of how, even when the bar­rel has been scraped clean, com­mis­sion­ing ed­i­tors re­main res­o­lute in their be­lief that we will watch any old bol­locks just as long as they throw in a Spice Girl.

This, nat­u­rally, is a show with a “twist”. So rather than hav­ing con­tes­tants per­form in front of the usual hatchet-faced judg­ing panel, our wannabes are re­quired to strut their stuff in front of “The 100”: a throng of “ex­perts”, among them cruise-ship en­ter­tain­ers, West End per­form­ers, pub singers, wed­ding croon­ers, ses­sion mu­si­cians and tribute artists, all ar­ranged ver­ti­cally like the Ga­lac­tic Se­nate in Star Wars. It is, to put it char­i­ta­bly, the hope­ful lead­ing the hope­less.

To the rules, then, which dic­tate that, roughly half a minute into a given per­for­mance, mem­bers of The 100 can vote with their feet – and their vo­cal cords. If they would like a per­former to stay

‘This show is ba­si­cally tele­vised karaoke af­ter the te­quila has been cracked open’

in the game, they must jump up and sing along with them. All of which means this is less a show about unearthing new tal­ent than a pub­lic­ity-chas­ing bun­fight in which the judges end­lessly mug for the cam­era, and con­tes­tants are re­warded not for their singing but their abil­ity to pick a good song. It’s ba­si­cally tele­vised karaoke af­ter the te­quila’s been cracked open, the egos un­corked, and some­one is al­ready col­lapsed in the cor­ner barf­ing into an ice bucket.

Any­one hop­ing that head judge Geri would suc­cess­fully per­form CPR on this ail­ing con­ceit will al­ready have sent for an am­bu­lance, since here she looks de­feated and grimly aware that, af­ter years spent pad­dling against the tide of post-Spice obliv­ion, she’s now re­duced to jostling for screen time amid 99 anony­mous pil­locks. The show nonethe­less dwells on the judges’ thought­ful and in­sight­ful crit­i­cism. “Ooh, she made me go all funny,” gib­bers wed­ding singer Jes­sica, point­ing at her goose pim­ples fol­low­ing Har­ri­ette from Chel­tenham’s ear­split­ting ver­sion of Don’t Look Back in Anger. Mean­while, host and co­me­dian Rob Beckett, charged with the fruit­less task of build­ing the ten­sion, cheers him­self up by qui­etly tak­ing the piss. “Top­man’s had a sale,” he mur­murs as Triple Fret, a three-piece boy­band, en­ter stage left.

In the pan­theon of TV tal­ent shows, All To­gether Now isn’t merely a dead horse. It’s the horse’s dusty re­mains, iden­ti­fi­able only by an old tooth and some moul­der­ing tufts of mane, over which Gin­ger Spice stands de­spon­dently hold­ing a whip. Truly, it’s time to pull the plug on this death­less for­mat. All things must pass. For the love of God, make the singing shows stop.

Judge dread: Rob Beckett and Geri Horner

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