I like Britain’s Got Talent a great deal. And by the time you read this, a new champion will have been crowned. Sadly, it’s not State of the Fart. In case you, foolishly, missed him, State of the Fart is a man who plays songs making fart noises with his hands. What? More? No! That’s it! How can you possibly want more?!
There is an issue with the increasing number of magic acts who require assistance – David, show the audience the card – but that aside there is something reassuring and reaffirming about Britain’s Got Talent.
You can argue, if you wish, that careful editing and choice of the acts to focus upon is manipulative. But that overplays it and misses the point. Britain’s Got Talent lifts you. It asks nothing of anybody except to show up and give it a go. It is open to all, from wherever they hail, Britain and beyond, and has rid itself of the former reality TV trope of mocking the freaks. It’s a place for people who may not fit in other places.
And when it hits, when it really gets going, it dissolves cynicism. The moments when it moves to that somewhere else, you’re in tears or pumping the air. It makes you feel good about the world. It allows such moments of exultation that you’d even take Dominic Raab seriously as a thinker and a potential leader. For a moment at least.
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It is a beacon of hope. When I hear that drone, that oft-repeated mantra, about delivering what the people really want, I think of a man farting with his hands. Or a likeable woman from Wakefield who does songs on the piano like Victoria Wood. Or a load of primary school kids running around a stage having the time of their life. With Ant and Dec. That, clearly, is what the people want. And more power to the people for it!
We allow clouds of confusion to descend and then fear to percolate. We can tell ourselves that the morass will thicken, keeping us trapped with no clear way out.
BGT allows such moments of exultation that you’d even take Dominic Raab seriously as a thinker and a potential leader
But there IS something else. Our genuine desire to share positive moments of joint communion are here.
I’m not saying the entire future lies with hand farts. But they provide something of a start.
That said, I’m also obsessed with Chernobyl, a TV show that, at heart, is about a shadowy group who’d rather preserve the false notion of the idealised nation state carrying on unchallenged and dominant, despite the experts warning that this will lead to Armageddon.
So, I suppose, things aren’t straightforward.
Still – hand farts…
Paul McNamee is editor of The Big Issue