With the live shows of the new series of Britain’s Got Talent kicking off last night, featuring children’s dance group Youth Creation and 11-year-old Arisxandra Libantino, it was inevitable that this morning the long-running debate over the place of children on reality TV would be reignited. Since the talent competition started questions have been raised over whether children should be participating, and whether they could deal with the possible rejection faced. The debate reached boiling point in 2009 as 10-year-old singer Hollie Steel broke down into sobs and cries for her mum during her performance, and the TV chaos that followed, which made for distressing viewing.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egEQ5V9koas]
Recent comments came from television star Bruce Forsyth, who said that he feels uncomfortable watching children go through ‘the ordeal’ of shows such as BGT, saying “I don’t think that’s entertainment”. Simon Cowell referenced the controversial argument on last night’s semi-final, calling Forsyth “Mr Grumpy,” and claiming that both Youth Creation and Arisxandra prove that children of their age should be allowed to participate in the show. Although Cowell’s point was proved correct and Youth Creation and singer Arisxandra were in the top 3 acts of the night following a public vote, it was almost undermined by the gloomy scenes that saw Arisxandra make it to the final, and Youth Creation heartbroken as they were shown the door.
Cowell is yet to comment on Brucie’s idea to “have a separate show. Have a children’s show, British Children Have Talent”, but with less opportunity for ridicule would people really watch it? Everyone loves the audition stages of any talent show, because you get to see all the people who think they’re amazing, but turn out to be awful!
Of course Simon Cowell and the ITV bosses are not solely to blame, at the end of the day it’s up to the parents to decide whether their child auditions or not, but watching a 10-year-old’s dreams shattered is still not exactly viewing pleasure. Besides, at that age, everything seems like the end of the world – does it make more sense to wait until the kids are old enough to understand fully what’s going on?
Simon Cowell and the producers at ITV, however, will be thrilled with the high viewer ratings for last night’s semi-final, and so as long as the public keep tuning in, they are unlikely to begin to change the show.
What are your thoughts on this controversial topic? Let us know!