A shadow loomed over ITV’s variety stage on Thursday night, blotting out Ant and Dec, the judges and half the studio audience.
From it emerged plus-size (Whole Lotta) Rosie O’Sullivan, who came burdened with “confidence issues”.
“It’s quite scary to think people are going to be talking about me and say bad things.”
Though she probably didn’t expect to hear it from Amanda Holden: “I can see you filling the Albert Hall.”
The Albert Hall, the O2, Milton Keynes Bowl, the Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro. Take your pick.
For the meantime, however, let’s stick with the Britain’s Got Talent live semi-finals, a once-brilliant annual TV highlight that somehow fell apart this week into a hugely disappointing affair.
The tone was set from the moment a jam-for-brains fake vicar disco-dancing with a broom dressed as a nun, who should have been a midweek novelty down the batting order, was chosen to open the live shows.
If bonkers was what they were going for, they’d have been far wiser sending warped Dutch genius Maarty Broekman as the coalmine canary.
This wasn’t, alas, an isolated error of judgement by the producers.
They must take responsibility for Alice Fredenham’s meltdown when, halfway through Cry Me A River, she forgot the words, crumbled before our eyes and her “liquid gold” vocals evaporated into gaseous sulphur.
Only paranoia can explain why the programme’s bosses felt compelled to make Alice justify her transformation from outgoing, kooky jazz singer on The Voice to nervous, gibbering BGT wreck, which clearly weighed heavily on her.
Of course, it hasn’t helped that this year’s talent is comparatively poor, continuing the downward trend since the Diversity/SuBo 2009 high tide.
Unfortunately, it’s compounded by the malfunctioning talent radars of Alesha Dixon, who’s become a talent show cliché (“Your vocals were on point”), and Amanda Holden.
Dixon to Bosom Buddies: “You look fantastic.”
They look like a drag version of Status Quo after a misjudged stage-dive.
Dixon to impressionist Philip Green: “You are adorable.”
He’s an in-your-face, camp, overly exuberant pain in the backside, which means his future lies in television.
Holden to Modupé Obasola: “I thought it was brilliant.”
It was a horror show from a poor girl who’s been given some catastrophic advice to “step it up”, ditch her guitar and become forgettable.
Another entry in the producers’ hall of shame.
And try as Ant and Dec might, not even they can save a series when it becomes all about the judges, who are patently having much more fun than the viewers, a danger sign that a show’s in deep sheep dip.
Holden managed to crowbar in a plug for her forthcoming autobiography (“out in September”) and all four have got themselves tangled in war of words with Bruce Forsyth over the inclusion of child acts.
But they’ve really shot themselves in the foot.
Because if Simon Cowell was serious about dismissing Brucie’s claim that kids can’t handle the pressure of rejection, he wouldn’t have bottled ditching Youth Creation on Monday and Pre Skool on Thursday.
Instead, he fudged his casting vote, saved them both, jibbed out and devolved responsibility back to the public.
He’s also acutely aware of this series’ weakness in depth and confessed on Thursday night: “I know what’s coming tomorrow. I surrender.”
Simon, I’m way ahead of you with the white flag.
Failing that, a big red buzzer.
This week’s Dirty Football Tactics of the Week award goes to...
Arsenal Ladies at BBC2’s Women’s FA Cup final, as midfielder Jordan Nobbs launched a counter-attack.
Jonathan Pearce: “Free kick to Bristol Academy. Now Arsenal can break... Nobbs.”
But they’d probably get booked for it.
This week’s Couch Potato Spudulikes...
ITV’s admirably risky game-changer to resurrect Les Dawson for An Audience That Never Was.
Celebrity Catchphrase’s Rosemary Shrager turning out to be even thicker than the regular contestants.
Embarrassing Bodies’ Dr Dawn Harper’s expert diagnosis for Tim, 40, from Nuneaton, who complained: “I’ve developed severe sweating around the buttocks that drips like a tap.”
Dr Harper: “It’s fair to say you’ve got a problem with excessive sweating.” (Thanks, doc. Case closed.)
And BBC2’s high-octane Springwatch, armed with little more than mating snails, rotting seaweed, late-blooming bluebells, jackdaw thuggery and an osprey love quadrangle, replacing BGT as the best nightly TV entertainment, with Chris Packham boasting: “Britain might well have talent, but it doesn’t have molluscan erotica, does it?”
Can’t argue with that.
Janet Street-Porter on Loose Women: “Quite often they put women on television because of the way they look.”
But not always, eh?
Not since the Marrakech/kosher chicken incident has The Apprentice reached such heights.
A near classic Dubai treasure hunt episode, capped with Jason’s Arabian accent – the least convincing foreign dialect since Steve McClaren took the FC Twente job – and Kurt mixing up imperial/metric measurements and ordering a microscopic UAE flag.
Lord Sugar delivered the line of the series: “Myles, Kurt would call you Kilometres.”
Which goes to show. If you give an inch on The Apprentice, they’ll take 12 centimetres.
More awe-inspiring research from The One Show’s Matt Baker: “There is a story, isn’t there, that you were asked to play a Bond villain?”
Nigel Havers: “Well, no, actually.”
This week’s Couch Potato Spuduhates...
Channel 4 appointing Clare Balding a world leading authority on the Suffragettes.
Corrie following EastEnders down the tug-of-love cul-de-sac.
The depressing sound of Britain’s Got Talent primary school children declaring: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
And insufferable, gender-card obsessed Gabby Logan claiming on Loose Women that before London 2012, “the likes of Sue Barker weren’t given the same platform” as men in the role of sports anchor.
Would that be the same Sue Barker who anchored BSkyB’s tennis coverage from 1990, BBC Grandstand from 1993, the Grand National from 1996, A Question of Sport from 1997, and was awarded an MBE for services to sport and broadcasting, in 2000?
Must be another Sue Barker.
Back again to Embarrassing Bodies’ Dr Dawn Harper: “A problem often brought about by poor oral hygiene is bad breath.
“And to tell if you’ve got it, there’s a simple test you can do using a small spoon.”
There is. Go up to a stranger, hand them a small spoon and breathe in their face.
If they hit you with the small spoon, you’ve got bad breath.
An update on rent-a-gob Katie Hopkins’ endless tenure of Daybreak’s sofa...
On Tuesday, she agreed with a judge who claimed criminals’ babies should be adopted to break the cycle of crime.
On Wednesday, she agreed with a survey that claimed obese kids should be taken into care because it’s parental neglect.
So don’t let it be said her views are so extreme and implausible that she can’t possibly believe them herself or that she’s there only for Daybreak’s appearance fees.
Because I imagine she puts her money where her mouth is and donates them all to Crimestoppers and obesity awareness charities.
Jimmy Doherty barraged us with stats on C4’s meaningless Human Swarm: “Every day the world creates 2.5 billion gigabytes of data, equal to 67.5 billion Encyclopaedias Britannica.”
“In winter, we use 43 per cent more fuel in the first mile of our car journey.”
“Our household emissions are enough to build a solid tower of carbon weighing 66 million tonnes. It’s information like this...”
... That made me switch off and save energy.
Clare Balding made a rare TV appearance on BBC1’s The Queen: A Passion For Horses, which came with this trailer: “A true horsewoman with a lifelong passion for racing, Her Majesty the Queen.”
Though in some circles outside of television she’s still referred to as: “Clare Balding.”
For posterity’s sake, a snippet of the final ever (surely) episode of Ben Elton’s The Wright Way, the worst ever sitcom...
Gerald: “Oh no. I’m not happy. I’m really not happy.”
Clive: “What’s your main area of concern, Gerald?”