There’s dissent in the reality TV ranks. In an interview with The Stage newspaper, West End stalwart Gareth Valentine - who acted as musical supervisor on Channel 4’s 2004 programme Musicality, which found five winners to appear in a one-off performance of Chicago - has heaped scorn on Andrew Lloyd Webber and his BBC programmes How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? and Any Dream Will Do, which found stars Connie Fisher and Lee Mead for his productions of The Sound of Music and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat respectively.

Valentine said of Lloyd Webber: “He got people off the streets to fill his own theatres and used the TV to feed off the theatre and vice versa. It is such a miserable and pessimistic view of the theatre." He also likened Lloyd Webber's TV shows to “blood sport” because of the aggressive way that the judges dealt with contestants, blatantly criticising rather than being constructive in contestants' individual training. Musicality choreographer Stacey Haynes also argued that Musicality differed from Lloyd Webber's talent contests because it offered training to contestants on a par with drama school tuition, albeit within a shorter time period.

This latest round of bashing hasn’t put Lloyd Webber off the concept. He signed a deal this week with Canadian broadcasters CBC to repeat How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? to cast a Maria von Trapp for his upcoming North American production of The Sound of Music, which opens at Toronto’s Princess of Wales Theatre in September 2008. The TV programme will be aired next summer.