Art and Entertainment

Greg Pritchard

Greg Pritchard Brings More Hype to “Britain’s Got Talent”

May 12, 2009 06:30 PM
by Liz Colville
Thanks to YouTube, Americans are riveted to a show they can't even watch as another contestant, Greg Pritchard, shocks the judges and gives Susan Boyle a run for her money.

Pritchard’s Got Height

Greg Pritchard approached the stage in a plaid shirt, leather jacket and spiky hair that recalled Adam Lambert, a current “American Idol” finalist. Simon Cowell got Pritchard to admit that he hated his job as a hotel waiter before the contestant launched into a performance that shocked everyone.

The young singer delivered a rendition of “Nessun Dorma,” the tenor aria that launched the career of Paul Potts, the first winner of “Britain’s Got Talent.” Pritchard’s version was a lot higher than Potts’; he describes himself as a “male soprano,” though his vocal range is also known as countertenor.

The audience, always game for a surprise, gave Pritchard a standing ovation. “It’s like a dog meowing … it just shouldn’t do that,” Cowell said when the performance was over. “Would I like a dog to meow?” he added. “I guess I would.” All three judges voted Pritchard into the next round on the grounds of both his shock factor and his talent.
Susan Boyle had such a great impact on audiences worldwide that “Britain’s Got Talent” has since established its own channel on YouTube for the benefit of viewers not in the U.K. In five episodes the program has showcased promising contestants such as Hollie Steel, a young ballerina with a powerful voice, and Jamie Pugh, a “Les Miserables” fan with stage fright.

Opinion & Analysis: Why is “Britain’s Got Talent” so popular?

“Britain’s Got Talent” is consistently a magnet for entertaining, amusing and talented performers. The show’s success this season could very well rub off on the U.S. version of the show, whose fourth season premieres June 23 on NBC with the same judges and a new host, Nick Cannon, who replaces Jerry Springer, reports TVWeek.

Is all the credit for the Internet success of “Britain’s Got Talent” due to Boyle, or are there other factors at play? The American and British versions have one judge in common, Piers Morgan, but Cowell, the sought-after creator of the show, does not appear on “America’s Got Talent.”

According to Access Hollywood, Cowell may make four trans-Atlantic flights a week during the summer just to keep up with the three shows he judges for: “X Factor,” “American Idol” and “Britain’s Got Talent.” Access Hollywood reported in April that this hectic schedule may actually drive Cowell to retire from “American Idol.”

Cowell is loved and hated for his curmudgeonly behavior and his accuracy in predicting success. According to Rolling Stone, after Carrie Underwood performed Heart’s “Alone” on “American Idol,” Cowell “predicted her massive success” and Underwood later “delivered the hits.”

But “Britain’s Got Talent” also has the proliferation of Twitter to thank for its recent buzz, as the Los Angeles Times blog The Dish Rag suggested. Further, the show’s network, ITV, was willing to keep clips of the auditions on YouTube, which also contributed to Boyle’s launch into the viral stratosphere.

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Such success is helping TV networks see the positive effects of television moving away from cable and satellite and onto the Internet, a phenomenon that Stephen Armstrong of The Times of London sees as both inevitable and positive.

“[T]he method of delivery of media does not change basic human desires,” he says, and people are proving that the social aspect of television is not being lost—it’s just following viewers online to social hubs like Twitter.

But “America’s Got Talent” may still have its work cut out for it. NBC is hoping for an appearance by Boyle to keep it in the top ratings slot. The next best thing, an American version of Boyle, would also help. NBC “reality czar” Paul Telegdy admits the timing of the Scottish phenom “is great,” but joked to TVWeek that it could have happened “a bit closer to our premiere.”

NBC will be making a few other changes to ensure ratings success, including switching to digital format. “We're shining and buffing it up,” Telegdy said. He is confident that the show’s philosophy can help deliver this. It is “all about the democracy of talent,” he told TVWeek. “Susan Boyle wouldn't have gotten out of line if she were on ‘American Idol.’”

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