10 Ways That Superstar Has Failed Us All

Oh, how sad I am that it has come to this.

Can we write it off now? Viewing figures sprinting precipitously down towards the 2 million mark and “flop” stapled to its forehead, Superstar is at this point, definitively, the least of all the Andrew Lord Eyebags Reality TV Talent Searches, and we’ve still got a week and 37 episodes to go. Argue amongst yourselves as you will about which is the greatest, but Superstar is clearly the dirt-worst. And I’m here to tell you why. You know, in my opinion and that.

1. The Scheduling

So let’s start off with the obvious one. The boss-eyed knock-on effects of the decision to air Superstar for 7 nights in a row (and then 3 more again after a short break for Celebrity Dancing On Ice) most notably include ; having an elimination at the start of the show (wrong) ; anybody with even the slightest hint of a life is forced to miss at least two episodes in the run, with no real chance of catching up in time before the next episode ; no time for filming of VTs, or Jesus Missions, or Celebrity Masterclasses, or EVEN A COMEDY VT AT THIS POINT ; accelerating the whole process to such a speed that you don’t have time to really relate to anybody ; dragging up the same talking point every 24 hours until it becomes tedious (NATHAN IS TOTES ARROGANT, EVERYBODY!) ; Mel C already clearly having to wear a dress backwards and pretend it’s a new dress because there’s no time for a researcher to at least run out to Primark because they’re already too busy trying to find nuclear strength painkillers for all the dancers the show burns through.

2. “Superstar Island”

Look, I’m not expecting opulence, but whoever was in charge of the purse-strings for the pre-live shows needs remedial lessons in budgeting. The whole spend was clearly hurled at a COMPLETELY pointless trip to Andrew’s House (/”Andrew’s House”. I half expected Sinitta to accidentally wander into shot wearing only Doritos, on a piss-break during X Factor filming), leaving nothing for anything else. The result? “Superstar Island” was basically an upturned shopping trolley in the middle of a flooded ditch, and contestants were told they were through to the Top Ten in some warehouse on an industrial estate. Compare this to the old days, where contestants were saved/rejected by being groped by BARROWMAN in the middle of an opulent party in the English countryside attended by Judi Dench, Barbara Windsor and a rogue Middleton sister. It’s just not the same. The show’s budget actually couldn’t even cover the cost of a proper trip to “Andrew’s House” given that the show made everyone ride home on the Megabus and called it a “challenge”. Don’t even get me started on that “music video” bollocks.

3. No Graham Norton

Look, I can’t bear Amanda Holden as much the next sane man. Or Les Dennis. But the woman is doing an adequate job reading the shitty dull script she’s been given. No, this is not a screed against Amanda, more a plea for Graham to come back, because clearly Old Eyebags misses him. We need a presenter who can relate to the contestants whilst also mercilessly taking the piss out of them. Who can randomly pop up playing a xylophone, and knows deep down the show’s a load of old campy twaddle held together on the hopes of tragic middle-aged gays and 13 year old girls who can sing every song from Les Miserables backwards. Who’s willing to admit when a mash-up is a medley, and knows how to prod Andrew into having a tantrum and then calm him down again later. There hasn’t been a greater babysitter on tv since the last time ITV2 showed Uncle Buck. This show NEEDS HIM.

4. Song-Choices

Obviously criticising song choices on an Eyebags show is somewhat of a cliche at this point. Who can forget Sheila Hancock (more on her later) lighting into Pixie Lott? But at least most of the Marias, Nancys, Nancys and Dorothys sang songs that were meant for their gender. I know it’s the era of the Woman In Pop, but I should be hearing some poor bloke trying to honk his way through Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson (TWICE!), Emily Sunday, Rebecca HONKerson, or (Saints preserve us) telling us he is “TOYYYYYTAAYYYYYYNEEEEEEEYUMMMMMM!”. At time of writing, the show is at least broaching rock music, even if musical theatre remains more or less untouched. Sadly, said “rock” is taking the form of Nickelback, Stereophonics and (*bleg*) Mr Big. GET SOME MEATLOAF IN HERE OR GO HOME.

5. No Sing-Out

The Marias lined up like skittles to jauntily sing “So Long, Farewell” to a teary eyed departee as demented jaunty fairground music played. The Josephs bellowed about getting a show of their own as their brothers stripped them naked (in my head). The Nancys did some stuff with a locket that was kind of crap but it was passable enough. The Dorothys gave their shoes to Eyebags and then departed on a GIANT SILVERY MOON. Jesus? Wanders off.

6. Lack Of Eye-Bags

It seems odd to say it, because he’s present at all times, but damnit there is JUST NOT ENOUGH ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER IN THIS SHOW. He is the lynch-pin around which this whole thing turns, and I feel slightly bereft that he is only being in-my-face fabulous about 60% of the time. I mean, occasionally they take him out of shot to focus on an actual CONTESTANT. This never used to happen. He always used to be hovering in the corner of shot, huffing, puffing, and grimacing like a demented sex-pervert. Even BETTER were the occasions when he actually liked something and he started jiggling up and down like an orgasmic Mr Toad. No, aside from those weird bits where the contestants enter his mystery dell to receive their pre sing-off advice (what IS that bit incidentally? Where did they find it?) his role in the show is sadly perfunctory. He’s even sat at the X Factor table with the other judges like a NORMAL MORTAL. Andrew needs to be elevated on his golden throne, accompanied by thunderstorm sound effects, and yelling “MASH MASH MASH” at all times. Every episode needs something on par with when someone changed the melody to Gethsemane and he FLIPPED HIS SHIT.

7. The contestants are all good

Now, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t (entirely) a “oooh don’t we all love a Kitty Brucknell style comedy trainwreck” point. And I’m glad that Andrew doubling down by calling out 80% of the cast of The Voice as being out-of-tune and offensive to the curse of his perfect pitch has been vindicated by most of the cast being strong, polished singers. But they’re all…a little too polished and professional. They all, even “Baby Jesus” (“Baby” in the sense that he’s more or less the same age as previous House Mother and grizzled showbiz veteran Steph Fearon), feel like they’ve been around the block and honed what they can do down to a point. Where are the Jessica Robinsons? The Abis? The Bens? The Niamhs? The people who are just coming into what they can do? It all feels a bit pat, and lacking in danger. Most of the performances have been professional and pleasant enough, but it doesn’t feel likely we’re going to get a moment like when Dani cut loose in the Sing-Off or when Rachel WENT LIKE RACHEL or when Keith Jack was randomly good once. More’s the pity.

8. Jesus

Let’s be honest, even the Andrew Lloyd Webber fans amongst us. Jesus Christ Superstar has about 10% of the cultural penetration (ooh err) of even the most niche of the previous productions cast (HINT : It’s Oliver! and even then Nancy is a great big “tart with a heart” archetype anyway). Most people could hum the chorus of the title song and that’s it, and if you asked them the plot, they’d just go “…it’s the Bible isn’t it?”. Which means we don’t really know what we’re looking for in a Jesus. Unless…we’re actually looking for JESUS, in which case good luck. Mainstream religion has spent 2000 years trying to define Jesus and it’s still stuck on “does he think gays are teh ick or not?” so I don’t think noted theologians like the Vicar Of Dibley and Melc are going to get us any closer, no matter how many times they say things like “Jesus was focused”, “Jesus wasn’t the sort of guy to stand with his hands in his pocket” and “Jesus would never drive a Honda Accord”.

9. Lack of Camp

Musical theatre is camp. Half the contestants (at least) are gay/bisexual/”I just fall in love with people”. You’re casting OUR SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST for an Arena Tour co-starring a Spice Girl and Chris Moyles. You need to do better than Amanda Holden walking two steps down a staircase flanked by a couple of Lacoste models. It doesn’t need to be the technicolour eye-violation of the Dorothy or the Josephs, but zhush things up a little for Jesus Christ Superstar’s sake. When you’re being out-homo’d by Tipping Point with Ben Shepherd (Sample dialogue : “the tip’s just creeping over the rim!”), you have to question your A-Level Drama choices somewhat.

10. Uninspiring Judgery

Let’s be honest, Bill Kenwright and (maybe) Zoe Tyler aside, the judges on Andrew Lloyd Webber shows have always been amazing. Crazy pervert Barry Humphreys. Crazy pervert Denise van Outen. Crazy pervert David Ian. BARROWMANs both regular and Diet. Keeper of the keys of truthiness Sheila Hancock. Forever performing her new single, it’s CHARLOTTE CHURCH! Even Cameron Mackintosh turning up in a huff for two weeks only to shit all over everybody had a certain charm. Sadly, this year’s judges are not in that vintage. It’s probably because they’re having to churn up new things to say every night, about people whom there’s not very much to say about in the first place (even if the scheduling was germaine to recapping I’m not sure how much material I could get out of, say, that one who looks a bit like Mr Bean). But I couldn’t really tell you what each judge is there for, apart from maybe Dawn French being a mother figure, with undertones of incest. I think Donovan might be trying to be the bitchy gay one whilst, technically speaking, being hetero. God knows what Melc is doing. We NEED to know Sheila Hancock’s opinion on Rock Music whilst Denise van Outen eyes up the line-up for a mistress and Diet Barrowman jabs a pen into the ether STAT.


Why was literally the entirity of the first three weeks of this show about Jonathan Ansell? WHY?


49 thoughts on “10 Ways That Superstar Has Failed Us All

  1. Lily

    It’s bad isn’t it. I only keep watching because I currently have no life and the hots for Nathan (because I’m a 13 year old girl/45 year old mother of 3). I looked into tickets for the final production as I think it does have the potential to be great once this casting train wreck is over. Unfortunately the only tickets available for the closest venue to me are £70+ ! Erm, I think I’ll pass thanks. Even for Nathan in a loincloth, £30 would be plenty!

  2. Pasta

    Your rightness is at biblical levels. It’s all such a waste. Uber-camp Dirk and cult-leader Tom (or was it TIm?) gone in an instant, when they could have offered weeks of fun. (Still, at least I know I’m not the only one who ran that interpretation of the departure of the Josephs in my head.)

  3. Lethe

    Was Holden almost crying tonight? I don’t even… God it’s like Glee. They’ve decided to basically abandon Musical Theatre songs even though the whole thing is supposed to be about musical theatre, and in both cases got better viewing figures before it went ‘mainstream.’

    1. monkseal Post author

      Holden starts weeping when the viewership dips below 2 million. Below 1 million, and she’ll start actually crying blood like Mary/VV Brown. It’s like Biblical Speed.

  4. Pops

    So, so true, especially the Graham Norton bit. It does make you realise what a great job the BBC shows did off camping it up and refusing to take themselves too seriously, without feeling like they were taking the piss out of the contestants who clearly desperately wanted the part or the viewers for bothering to tune it. Jesus Christ Superstar seems almost afraid to admit its musical theatre (sorry, ‘rock opera’) roots. Every week on Over the Rainbow, Sheila Hancock had a moan about vaccuous pop songs, but they still had Sophie doing a number from Flower Drum Song, of all things, and Lauren’s line-by-line interpretation of Being Alive. Let’s see some jazz hands (stigmatas optional).

    1. monkseal Post author

      I know people always complained about how the BBC shows didn’t focus on acting enough, but the complete lack of any focus on it beyond a couple of judges comments occasionnally, is really obvious. That, combined with the complete lack of intimacy in the studio makes it feel less “theatrical” than it should. It’s in real danger of just spiralling off into being X Factor with better singers…or The Voice, as it was known last time I watched it.

  5. Monaogg

    Without Ian Gillan (the original & preferred Jesus) there as a judge it is silly as it just leaves Andrew trying to be all the judges at once. Add to that competent but with no outstanding contestants, an annoying noisy out of time clapping audience and no colour coordination and this is car crash stuff.

    Wonder if the ALW audience choice show will move back to the BBC next time?

  6. Joel

    Obligatory ‘Who wants to hear the reggae version?!’ at the mention of VV Brown.

    Literally the only interesting thing about this show is the lack of Bottom Two Bounce. Adorable Wee Jesus Dirk (who I think had one of the most pleasant voices, tone-wise): bottom – saved, bottom – gone. Fat Depressed Jesus Tim: bottom – saved, bottom – gone. (Right? I stopped watching before the results…) I’d see if Blobby Nose Jesus is bottom two again tonight, but I’m not sure I’m even going to bother watching it.

    I don’t mind men singing women’s songs, as a rule, but when they’re as spectacularly unsuited for a man’s voice as Titanium, say, it’s just cruel.

    Rory is far and away the most suitable.

    I’m still pissed that Seamus didn’t go through to the live shows.

  7. NotTheRealJoe

    This is how I reckon each Jesus should be eliminated at the end of the show.

    Losing Jesus starts stripping/takes off colour coded crown of thorns/whatever, is ideally left in a loincloth for pervy/*authentic* reasons.

    He then goes to lie down on something we can’t see, and as the rest of them sing ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’, the glittery massive cross from Madonna’s Confessions tour starts rising up until Losing Jesus is vertically crucified-ish. In a glittery way.

    Losing Jesus then starts singing that ballad where he has to do the massive note.

    Final chorus, the cross rises up. and the Losing Jesus FLIES off stage.

    It would be better than walking off at least.

    1. Louise

      Awesome. 🙂

      Would they get a second chance to come back into the competition three days later? (Biblical jokes FTW!)

      So glad I’m not watching this. Although, as always, Monkie’s commentary kind of aaalllmost makes me want to…

  8. Left Feet

    My heart bleeds for poor old Eyebags maybe he should have tried a differient musical to keep the Beeb intrested. I thought this may happen because the BBC shows had a nice warmth about them (ie no Amanda Holden!) and was attractive to the BBC viewer. There is no humilatition of the candidates which ITV viewers want to see.

    1. monkseal Post author

      There has to have been a better musical than JCS to dig up. West Side Story? Chicago? I’m sure people would say they’ve both too violent but I’m equally sure you could point out that they’ve cast a prostitute who gets brutally murdered before now.

      Of course IDEALLY they would cast for Rocky Horror. That’s the dream.

      1. Tom h

        The BBC really wanted to do a My fair lady for a number of years but ALW kept saying no.ALW has wanted to do JCS since after Maria but the BBC were not interested.

        Through You tube I have discovered that Barrowman judged How to solve a problem like Maria CANADA! And they’re is going to be a Canadian version of over the Rainbow in the Autumn.

  9. David

    I’ve only watched a few minutes here & there. Have they got rid of anyone yet by forcing them to sing Mr Bojangles? Probably not. As one of the few(/many) straight guys who love musical theatre I really miss the Lloyd Webber BBC shows. Even though many of the songs were pop, each show still managed to give the impression that it was actually about musical theatre. Superstar does indeed seem ashamed of it. Sing-offs at the beginning? Bit like starting a football match with the penalty shootout. Surely ALW must be able to see that this is pony and be desperate to get back to the Beeb.

    1. Tom h

      After his comments about the Eurovision and The Voice. The Beeb are not going to take him back in the foreseeable future.

    2. monkseal Post author

      They did at least get the eliminations to be at the end of the show in the end, albeit in the most fiddly, unconvincing manner possible.

  10. Scott

    They were screwed the minute they picked Jesus Christ Superstar. They lost the whole campy “You could be Nancy!” or “You could be Dorothy!” stuff. There suddenly have to be respectful, so they can’t have the eliminees get crucified, even though that’s what we all want to happen. They can’t have proper debates about “you look EXACTLY like the Messiah” or “I’ve got a census from Bethlehem in 4 AD, and it turns out that there were 4000 people who had BIG LONG HAIR AND BEARDS” or “clearly the Son of God WOULD have a goatee.” It starves it of spontaneity just in case anyone is inadvertently blasphemous,

    Also ITV are shit.

    1. Jemma

      When I saw the men walking Amanda down the stairs I thought of you. You love an undone bow tie don’t you?

      Ps. I have a crush on Nathan too , lily.

    2. monkseal Post author

      I dunno, the constant low-key, faux-controversial, tittering mild blasphemy is part of what I like least. It smacks of the safest sort of OFCOM-baiting, just because they know some nut will always complain about anything Goddy. I’m genuinely surprised there hasn’t been some tedious attempt to create a Row over it, although I guess that space is being taken up by such tedious crap as “Daley Thompson sort of says something about the Irish”.

      1. Joel

        It’s because it’s on ITV. If it was still BBC, you can bet the Daily Mail would have been ALL OVER that shit.

  11. kassieq

    Got as far as one of the rehearsel/island programmes (which one, who knows, how quickly they morph) when the donobot started pulling faces whilst listening to a song, and it reminded me too much of the ‘scratch and sniff’ tango and I had to go back into therapy, I am slowly recovering, thanks for asking.

    Had quick peek last night, eye-bags is getting mean in his old age. David and Ben annoy me – Rory reminds me of Agassi. Roger to win (like that’s likely). In the end I don’t really care, only know one song from the show. Oh and lastly Amanda ‘take your place on the stairway to heaven’ Holden – is just wrong, clothes, voice, personality – doesn’t work.

  12. Jenny

    I’m soooooooo glad I didn’t watch it – and even more glad you didn’t recap it, which would have made me watch it.

    Your post proves you should:

    Never host a show like this without Graham Norton again
    Never do a show like this on ITV again
    Never rush a talent contest through before people have got to know the contestants – see also The Voice

    I miss the Dorothys! Best show ever – until Eyebags and Graham come back to the BBC for their Eliza/Evita/West Side Story Maria/Bess as in Porgy/Whatever I will not rest….

    1. monkseal Post author

      It’s odd – many people online are singling out the Dorothy series as plainly the worst of the BBC bunch which I think is bizarre, but then I realise they’re just trying to look SMART because they think the elimination process was too tacky, which is where they are exactly wrong.

      1. Jenny

        Really? That’s like the people on Doctor Who forums who pick Paul McGann as their favourite Doctor…

        The elimination was brilliant, that’s what I love about these shows and each week I cried happy tears at them getting their leading lady moments just before they’d gone.

        I loved the Nancies too and only have vague memories of the Marias, so the Dorothys are definitely the best for me.

        That’s mostly down to the cast though. Of the Nancies I really only cared for Sarah Lark and La Prenj, whereas there were so many memorable Dorothys: Lauren, Steph, Stephanie, Bronte Barbe, Amy the glamour model etc, etc,

        I would more than happily sit and watch the whole series all the way through again.

        While Eyebags is counting his ITV money, let’s all go to the BBC and pitch our perfect show.

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