New Times,
New Thinking.

27 May 2010

My Over the Rainbow addiction

The fact is, I just love competition.

By Mark Watson

This weekend saw the final of Over The Rainbow, the BBC series in which a selection of massive-eyed, desperate girls competed for the role of Dorothy in a new West End production of The Wizard of Oz, presided over by Andrew Lloyd-Webber. For many people, the above sentence summarises most of what is awful about the BBC, light entertainment, and the world in general. OK, we’re all now accustomed to the fact that it is not possible for anyone to be hired in any field of life these days without having won the job via a TV reality show – it feels increasingly as if not just the pop stars you listen to, but the estate agents who show you round houses, staff at the bank, your headmaster, all have probably been picked via a public vote following a lot of tears and montages of their ‘best bits’. But even if you indulge the public’s mania for competition shows, this is really pushing it. Week after week of stage-school girlies simpering through songs from The Wizard of Oz in absolutely-never-been-to-Kansas RADA accents, clicking their heels together, emoting through whiter than white teeth, and pausing every twenty seconds to reassure the public that they are desperate, absolutely desperate, to be Dorothy.

And sure Over The Rainbow was all these things and worse; it was one of the most cringe-making spectacles in recent TV history. But I can only say that with authority because I did watch quite a bit of it.

There are all kinds of excuses I could make. I could tell you I don’t really like watching much comedy on TV, because it immediately puts me in a work mentality; the sound of an audience laughing is about as relaxing and welcoming to me as, if you work in an office, the sound of a photocopier whirring would be to you. I could also talk about the simple joy of cuddling up to one’s wife with a bottle of wine and watching something that requires no mental engagement or effort at all. This would be all true. But there has to be something.

This post originally appeared on Mark Watson’s blog.

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