All Together Now

With The X Factor in freefall and The Voice yet to produce a winner you could pick out of a police line-up, the TV karaoke contest is clearly in need of a shot in the arm.

The twist in All Together Now is that the hopefuls must perform before a panel of 100 – yes, one hundred – judges (even The Voice hasn’t been through that many) comprised of everything from tribute acts and cruise ship crooners to West End stars and an actual Spice Girl, Geri Horner.

‘The 100’ are all stacked on top of each other in cubes (‘like The Muppets’, noted Horner) and contestants win a point for everyone who stands up and joins in a bit of a sing-song. (And what do points make? Perhaps mindful of the less than stellar careers of recent talent show graduates, Horner explicitly states ‘we’re not promising the world’ – just £50k in cash.)

Given that the idea is to inspire a mass sing-along, the song choices – All Night Long, All That Jazz, ­etc – are all of the Now That’s What I Call Blindingly Obvious school favoured by The X Factor et al. Chrissy from Wigan did appear to buck the trend by belting out Nessun Dorma but, just as I was looking forward to hearing Ginger Spice’s messa di voce, it suddenly segued into Guns’n’Roses’ Paradise City – not a medley I recall Pavarotti ever attempting.

The stars of the first episode were funny and likeable XL girl group The Sundaes and Michael, whose introduction as a ‘busker from Hartlepool’ set my Sheeran warning antenna twitching, but who instead delivered a barnstorming version of Proud Mary. He was the last act of the night, and the first to score a full house. Coincidence? I doubt it.

I’m not entirely convinced the format has legs, but the show does have an ace up its sleeve in the form of host Rob Beckett, who does a fine job of undercutting the general air of jazz-hands showbiz cheesiness. If All Night Long is going to find a new Saturday night star, it’s probably him.


TV extra:

 

Rita

Scandinavians are famously the world’s happiest people – except on TV. But it’s not all Nordic noir: for a welcome blast of ‘Scandi light’, check out this sparky Danish comedy-drama – the fourth series of which has just landed on Netflix – about an unconventional teacher navigating everyday problems of work and family, without a body bag or frozen corpse in sight. The scripts are razor sharp, Mille Dinesen lights up the screen in the title role – and even the weather’s nice.

 

Two Doors Down

The Scottish suburban sitcom – in which kindly Arabella Weir and Alex Norton find their hospitality routinely abused by their dreadful neighbours – kicked off its third run with an eventful Burns supper, highlights of which included a giant haggis and the reveal of Beth and Eric’s redecorated downstairs toilet. As ever, Doon Makichan’s grasping social climber Cathy threatened to poison the well of good cheer, until everyone was brought to together by the healing power of The Proclaimers. An understated treat.

Published in Waitrose Weekend, February 1, 2018

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