Monday, April 18, 2011

Honking Box Review: Sing If You Can

Anyone familiar with TV Go Home, the uproarious listings satire on which Charlie Brooker first sharpened his solid gold fangs, will be acquainted with spoof formats including When Liquids Coagulate (“real-life coagulation caught on camera”), Scissors Paper Stone (“A televised hand invites you to compete against it”), and of course, Unpopped Popcorn Kernal Avoidance Live.

Now, in 2011, either TV Go Home has been printed using the same ink Penny Crayon wields and its fantastical parodies have come to life, or the commissioners are taking the serious piss. Sing If You Can, the big-money highlight of ITV1’s Saturday night schedule, sees a handful of quasi-celebs performing karaoke whilst enduring bizarre challenges, such as being draped in snakes, spinning wildly on a giant turntable, or being buggered by a giant laboratory-forged scorpion named Victor. (In fairness, only two of those challenges featured in the first episode, but let’s not forget there’s still a couple more weeks of this absurdity to go.)

Guest-wise, it wasn’t particularly stellar – aside from Jodie Prenger and Brendan Cole, Sing If You Can boasts a whole lotta yesterwho. So for anyone wondering what happened to Zoe Birkett, she’s now appearing on peculiar karaoke gameshows as Zoe Birkett who came fourth in Pop Idol, and resembling Sad Sack with a horsehair weave. But this is all irrelevant, as precisely no-one was wondering what happened to Zoe Birkett.

Elsewhere, Brigitte Nielsen – who was a surprise article of awesomeness on Celebrity Big Brother – managed to show off a decent enough voice, but was nowhere near as goose-loop mental as she has the capacity to be. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what is supposed to happen when Brigitte Nielsen is given the opportunity to express her DE-GE-DE in song form:

No such excitement here, sadly. The audience sport expressions ordinarily utilised by individuals on jury service, whilst uncomfortably wielding felt-tip “I Love Sing If You Can!” banners which were cobbled together by the production team half an hour earlier.

The hosts actually make some sense: the genuinely lovable Stacey Solomon actually comes across far less burbling and hapless than you might expect, and Leigh Francis in character as Keith Lemon at least implies that the whole thing is some sort of knowing piss-take, even if the jokes that pour out of him are flatter than a deluxe album’s worth of Rihanna vocals. But there’s just no excusing such appalling content.

Admirably, the aim of the whole shitshower is to raise money for charity, though it’s difficult not to be horribly cynical about the whole thing and wonder whether the charity aspect is only included to give some sort of backbone-cum-excuse to what is otherwise one hour of a single camera trained on a lone used sanitary towel.

It’s almost impossible to believe Sing If You Can is a real show. Lowbrow is all well and good – Total Wipeout, for instance, does it with big foamy finesse – but there comes a point where you wonder just how much lower than low you can get. How such blatant throwaway gimmickry actually made it past the commissioners is a genuine mystery, but if this is what counts for primetime entertainment now, then let’s just resign ourselves to it. Fearne’s Concentration Camp All-Stars! With team captains Dean Gaffney and Chloe Staines! Sponsored by Britain’s most repugnant eaterie chain Fire & Stone! Coming soon to ITV1! (Joking we may be, but if Sing If You Can is any indication, don’t rule it out.)

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