Judges the real stars of this Kiwi talent show

Last updated 05:00 17/11/2012

IN JUDGEMENT: Opshop singer Jason Kerrison, left, supermodel Rachel Hunter, and former UB40 lead singer Ali Campbell make up the judging panel of New Zealand’s got Talent.

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New Zealand's Got Talent [TV One, Sundays, 7.30pm] continues to be amazing, fantastic, outstanding, great and a few other superlatives, too numerous to mention - according to the judges.

It's doubtful whether there has ever been assembled a trio of people who are capable of using so many superlatives without repeating themselves for at least eight minutes. That's about how long it takes to introduce each act, have it performed and then wait for the judges' reaction.

The show is a variation of the good old-fashioned talent show concept we've always loved. It is pleasing that some of this country's finest talent is being given some much-needed exposure and encouragement, but there's something a little surreal about saying how great a performer is just before voting him or her off the show.

It's almost as manic as the Breakfast show on TV One, especially when zany weather guy Sam is at his zaniest as they dare each other to do silly things and giggle endlessly when he falls off a hedgehog, or something like that.

Mind you he did excel himself by eating a huhu grub, while it was still wriggling, to the accompanying chant of "Sam's gonna spew" from the assembled schoolchildren when he was in Hokitika recently. He didn't, but Mrs B nearly did as bits of it fell from his lips. This was also noticed by the eagle-eyed Petra back in the studio. "Half of it dribbled out of his gob," she said rather indignantly.

Mrs B pointed out it was not really the desired viewing with which to start the day - especially when you are trying to eat your breakfast. She was closer to spewing than Sam.

And to think some people say we have no culture!

Anyway, back to those fantastic folks from that unbelievably good New Zealand's Got Talent.

On Sunday, as per usual, it started with host Tamati Coffey's introduction. "We've got another magnificent show for you, for you tonight with five fantastic acts." Tamati, of course, graduated to the show from Breakfast, where he was once considered to be the zany weather guy.

He's now the host in his own right on Saturdays and leaves the really zany stuff to Sam, who was poached from TV3 to be as zany as, um, he is now.

Part of the culture of these talent quests is to resurrect the careers of former stars by making them judges and preferably to have a baddie, in the mode of Simon Cowell, to be ruthless in his honest appraisal of those who deserve criticism.

Sadly, not one of the three fit that criterion. Supermodel Rachel Hunter, Opshop singer Jason Kerrison and former UB40 singer Ali Campbell are all honest enough when the occasion demands, it's just that in this case the demand hasn't arisen since the heats. Rachel has proved she is no blonde bimbo and is likeable and engaging, if far too nice ["you're what this show is all about"], while the other two are personable and prone to being generous in their assessments.

There is truly something bizarre, as happened last week, when a judge has barely finished telling one of the groups that they were "great, you guys are geniuses, you absolutely floored me" before using his casting vote to throw them off the show.

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It's that world of superlatives that these people inhabit. Rachel is the queen and in more than one way. From the moment the three judges are given their rapturous reception from the adoring audience as they emerge down the catwalk, Rachel is the centre of attention. She is an imposing 6-foot-plus and the two men by her side could best be described as compact.

Tamati asks them how the show's been so far. Rachel doesn't hesitate: "It's been incredible. I mean it's been an amazing experience, and the talent's been outstanding."

It was nice of her to mention the talent, almost as an afterthought admittedly, but they are part of the show, along with the judges of course.

The top three acts "as voted for by you, New Zealand" are brought on to the stage. The top one, "as voted by New Zealand" goes straight through to the super [of course] final. Other shows may have finals, even grand finals, but NZ's Got Talent has a super final.

The judges decide the other super finalist, and their votes are always managed so that it falls on the third judge to make the casting vote. Such is the genius of Cowell. Not only do his family make great pavs, he knows how to inject drama into almost anything.

Do watch it, as it draws near the end. The contestants are OK, but the real stars remain the judges. To paraphrase Rachel, "they're what this show is all about".

- The Timaru Herald


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