The Big Big Talent Show



Jonathan Ross


Garry Bushell

Voiceover: Steve Jones


LWT for ITV, 27 July 1996 to 30 August 1997 (18 episodes in 2 series)


You know that when Jonathan Ross says "we've got some top rank entertainment for you tonight" you could be in for anything...

Now despite what Garry Bushell says, variety is crap by virtue of being shockingly lightweight, worthy and dull. Talent shows are usually alright because you sometimes get some awful people on them. The irony is of course that the winners of the heats are always usually singers meaning that the final doesn't actually have much variety at all.

Ahhh... but that's where this show was different, you see. The first series was won by ventriloquist Paul Zerdin, and the second series gave rise to stand-up comedian Ed Byrne. Despite this success, this show was nevertheless Opportunity Knocks for the Nineties and, just like Don't Give Up Your Day Job, didn't last very long.

Six acts were showcased each week. Before each one, Jonno had a quick chat with someone who knew the act. Usually, it was some kind of friend, workmate or relative, but in the case of the aforementioned Mr. Byrne it was Ed's bank manager! At the end of the show there was an audience vote, which actually counted for nothing but did allow Ross a topical joke at the top of each episode by giving a question with some silly answers, and the all important phone numbers so that democracy decides.

Garry Bushell himself was on hand to slag off all the acts before the voting started, which was nice.

All the winners went through to the grand final where the winner was guaranteed air time over the coming year or something like that. Well, at least a spot at the Royal Variety Performance, anyway.


1996 Paul Zerdin
1997 Lydia Griffiths

Theme music

Shine by Aswad.


The whole of the first series was live, and utilised phone votes. In the second series, however, the live element and phone votes were relegated to the final only, which was perhaps a shame.

Whilst Opportunity Knocks and New Faces can claim to have broken many a performer into the world of stardom, The Big Big Talent Show could well have been the catalyst for the careers of Irish comic Ed Byrne and Iranian comic and massive Hollywood star Omid Djalili who were both well received as contestants. Also, Charlotte Church was "discovered" on the show (for a second time, having already been "discovered" on Talking Telephone Numbers the year before). Stephen Mulhern also appeared in the 1997 series.

The 1997 final was broadcast on the same night Princess Diana died. Not that we're insinuating there was a connection or anything. Though you could always try selling this info to the Daily Express.

The 1997 final also featured Steve Brookstein, whoever he was.

Series one winner Paul Zerdin would go on to win the 2015 series of America's Got Talent.

Web links

Andy Walmsley's set design for the first series


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