Let Me Entertain You
Lion TV for BBC Two, 21 August 2006 to 22 June 2007 (40 episodes in 2 series)
Daytime talent show, in which contestants are given three minutes to do their act, and win more money the longer they remain on stage (£100 for one minute, £200 for two, and a whopping thousand quid - plus a trophy - for the full three). The studio audience have voting pads and the contestants are booted off once 50% of the audience have voted to get rid of them. Each day's top performer plus the week's best runner-up go through to the Friday final, from which two progress to the grand final at the end of the series. (In the first series, when they had 45 minutes to play with instead of 30, the top two performers from each day went on to the weekly final, from which two made it to the series final). The last act in each regular show is someone from the studio audience who's been nominated by their "friends" and don't know they'll be performing until they are surprised by Brian Conley during the show.
In the first series, there was always an "act" which consisted of someone talking to Brian about their hobby, which added a lot to the quirky charm of the show but sadly has been dropped from the second series. (The speaker would sit in a chair which disappeared backwards in the Brainstorm stylee when they were voted off.) Also we notice Brian doesn't talk about "the dressing room of dreams" and "tunnel of terror" anymore.
There's nothing terribly groundbreaking about this format (in essence it's just a toned-down variant on the classic US format The Gong Show) but with the daytime light entertainment genre currently going through a mini-boom (The Paul O'Grady Show, The Price is Right - oops, spoke too soon -, even Deal or No Deal) it's a neat idea to tap into that market with a talent show, and it works.
Sadly, the second series appears to have shifted in a poor direction. Now only five acts appear in the half-hour slot, meaning the acts are mainly song and dance affairs. That means there's no chat bit which limits the amount of entertainment possible, gives Conley less to react to, and robs us of the opportunity to get more interesting winners as happened in series 1. Also the more expensive set actually looks worse, and the clock and percentage counters are annoyingly large, presumably to placate all the grannies who can't read with their milk bottle glasses on. To put the tin hat on it, the whole venture is now part of BBC New Talent, rather than a bit of a laugh on a weekday afternoon - that's talking it up rather, isn't it?
Adam Wood, who also devised Cash Cab.