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It’s Monday morning, it’s been a hard weekend, it’s raining so this can mean only one thing. It’s time to let of some steam in the form of an irate missive from Ms Angry of Asheldham!If I have come to understand anything during my time on earth it is that life is a continual learning curve and how experience can alter attitude. For instance, if you had asked me even this time last year what I thought about the copious amounts of talent shows there seem to be saturating the British television screens at the moment I would have immediately jumped out of my ‘ivory tower’ straight on my ‘high horse’ and said it was nothing short of a disgrace. However, a year down the line and my thoughts have changed so dramatically they actually shock me – and, believe me, after seeing what the BBC wrote to Martin ‘Member’ that is not easily done these day!I now see the need, dare I say necessity, for these shows in today’s society for, if we didn’t have them, the entertainment industry in this country would suffocate itself in a rather unsavoury sea of, what can only be described as horrific celebrity based almost incestuous nepotism. Not content are we to know about the ‘celebrity’ in question but we have to know about their family, friends, partners and even pets! And oh, how those ‘celebrities’ are willing to oblige by ‘introducing’ us to their families bringing their children, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, cousins and even grandparents on board – such is the understanding of the power of the media and how important it is to keep your name constantly at the forefront rather than letting your talent or achievements speak for you (possibly because the vast majority don’t have any of either!)

My Mother drew my attention to a cookery programme she had seen featuring Gordon Ramsay who was involving his children in the show – a little early some might think to launch their TV careers but, as our ‘celebrity friends’ know, it is never too early or, never too late (aka Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s grandmother). All quite innocent a lot might say but I find it quite sinister. Yes, the person in question might be of interest but why his/her family and friends too? Not only of interest, but more worthy than someone who might have far greater talent but not the connections or surname.

But I digress, and should refer back to my original comment and concerns about the talent programmes. I don’t actually watch these programmes but I do have knowledge of them so I will articulate my point by someone I have heard of – Susan Boyle. As I understand it, for years Ms Boyle attended a music college, won small vocal competitions and sang in the Clubs around her home town – her voice being equal, if a little less refined – from what it is today. She was considered a ‘good’ singer but nothing more. However, she was the same singer that walked on stage in the X Factor. Simon Cowell spotted her potential and from then on, the story is history. The general public love her, she has performed just about everywhere and in front of the most prominent people in the world. And why? Because she was given the opportunity to be seen and for the general public to judge what they do like or are interested in rather than being told by some Media or PR Agency what they WILL like and what WILL interest them. Remember, this is not about what you personally like, it is about the opportunity of exposure those with talent or mass appeal have to get their skills recognised and judged on a fair platform. I also understand there has always been an element of who you are connected fast-tracking people up the ladder but not to the extent that if you don’t know, or are connected with, anyone you aren’t even going to be allowed to get your foot on the bottom rung (or should I say ‘round’ taking the Fire Service perspective!)

I do understand the offence these shows cause to bands who have worked hard for years doing the pubs, clubs, schools and any other venue they can blag their way into to play and get heard on the ‘off chance’ someone in the know might spot them but today, people taking this path have an added problem to getting exposure. Since the ‘initial’ contact is not likely to be from the ‘top guy’ – or a person who can say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ directly – you have to go through the ‘chain of command’. Yes, a talent scout/journalist/person in the know might spot you or see potential in what you have to offer but today there seems to be an ‘extra’ criteria to be met even for that person selling your ‘product’ other than talent, quality, appearance or appeal. That criteria being, ‘what celebrity do you have on board or backing you’ because, believe me, if you don’t have one you are not just facing an ‘uphill struggle’ you are facing a journey which would make an extremely tricky ascent of Everest in Doctor Scholl’s Mountaineering Sandals look easy – take it from me, I know!

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