The judges judged.. by Mrs Nasty

Daily Record - - NEWS -

WE love to hate them be­cause they have the power to make or break dreams.

When Ch­eryl Tweedy made her de­but judg­ing BBC1’s The Great­est Dancer last week, she was judged her­self by view­ers ask­ing if she was qual­i­fied for the role.

So what makes a great – or hope­less – tal­ent show pan­el­list? We asked TV’s orig­i­nal Mrs Nasty, NINA MYSKOW.

The first time I met Si­mon Cow­ell he bowed down, al­most to his knees, and wav­ing his arms in front of him, did an elab­o­rate “I’m not wor­thy, I’m not wor­thy” num­ber.

I looked down at him and laughed. “No, you’re not!” I said. “Get up, for heaven’s sake.” This was way be­fore The X Fac­tor or Bri­tain’s Got Tal­ent. And al­though he was the stand-out judge on the first se­ries of Pop Idol in 2001, he was not yet one of the most pow­er­ful peo­ple in Bri­tish cul­ture.

The rea­son for his rou­tine, I guess, was that in the 80s I had been a judge on the big Satur­day night va­ri­ety tal­ent show New Faces.

I re­mem­ber stand­ing in the wings at the Birm­ing­ham Hip­po­drome as the theme tune played for the first show. I turned to pro­ducer Richard Hol­loway and asked: “Any last-minute in­struc­tions?” “Just be your­self,” he said. And, God help me, I was.

I got booed that first show. It’s not an easy sound. I whis­pered to fel­low judge Chris Tar­rant be­tween acts: “What do you think?” “Go for it!” he said.

I did. The next day, Tar­rant said: “I’ve cre­ated a mon­ster!” But I have never seen any point in not telling the truth.

As a critic, it is your job. You owe it to a per­former or an act to go with your in­stincts and, backed by ex­pe­ri­ence, ex­press your opin­ions as ac­cu­rately as pos­si­ble. You have got to be ob­jec­tive and have the courage of your con­vic­tions. I had to get used to be­ing booed by the au­di­ence, and once broke ev­ery show­biz rule by rail­ing back at them. It was af­ter they booed me for lam­bast­ing an un­re­con­structed comic who had told a joke in a Pak­istani ac­cent. I turned to them and said: “I don’t care what you think! You laughed at that joke, and that makes you racist too.” That made things worse, ob­vi­ously. I wept in my dress­ing room af­ter­wards, but was vin­di­cated by thou­sands of let­ters of sup­port. Over 30 years on, tal­ent shows are a TV sta­ple. Last week­end alone brought the start of three se­ries. The new­est, The Great­est Dancer, was banal, lack­lus­tre and badly pre­sented. Apart from a heart-warm­ing fi­nale with Down’s syn­drome con­tes­tant An­drew, the best thing about it was that Ch­eryl made no at­tempt to sing. By con­trast, it was a joy to hear Sir Tom Jones duet­ting with the son of Lon­nie Done­gan on The Voice. No mat­ter that the show has never pro­duced a star. The TV pro­duc­ers are not mak­ing a tal­ent show, but an en­ter­tain­ment show. And the judges have be­come more im­por­tant than the con­tes­tants. With that in mind, here is my guide to the mag­nif­i­cent seven best and seven worst TV tal­ent show judges..

ORIG­I­NAL & BEST Nina now and on New Faces with Tim Rice, above

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