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Superstar blog: The search for Jesus Christ is almost complete

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Next weekend sees the arrival of new talent show Superstar which follows a similar format to Any Dream Will Do, How do you Solve a Problem like Maria?, I'd Do Anything and Over the Rainbow. There are two notable differences though; this search is for a star that can fill stadiums as opposed to West End theatres. And the institution is ITV, not the BBC. This of course means, no Graham Norton - a loss in my eyes as he does bring something warm yet incredibly funny to the genre.

So what do we know? The host of the show is Amanda Holden - following her success as a judge on Britain's Got Talent. And it's easy to forget because of this Syco coverage that she has starred in the West End in two big budget musicals and has been acting long before BGT. The judges are a mixed bunch - Dawn French - who will obviously bring plenty of laughs to the format but why else she has been asked? This leaves me quite confounded. Jason Donovan is also on board and there is a connection to the Lord here with his experience in Joseph.

Then there is former Spice Girl and new darling of the West End - Melanie C. She surprised many critics as Mrs Johnstone in Blood Brothers and has been seen recently plugging the new Spice Girls juke box musical Viva Forever (written by Jennifer Saunders - there's the link to Dawn French - right there!). And for a nice bit of product placement - she has been cast as Mary Magdelene in JCS.

The format differs from previous shows as we are going to see some audition shows and then cut straight to the live shows which will be shown consecutively over one week. If you have read the Daily Mail - you will already have seen that the final six have been revealed. One of these is Seamus Cullen - who many may remember as the the "I will have a show of my own" Any Dream Will Do contestant. I saw him play Che in Evita - so he is hardly an unknown.

But if the final six have been revealed, then the show is surely going to lose its enigma? The BBC format thrives on the secrecy and the fact that the live shows last for about 6 - 8 weeks, whereas this time - it's all over in one week. With the Arena tour set for September though - it has to be. Usually the West End productions take place long after the talent show has finished.

So, what do we think? Well, I wanted Sheila Hancock to come back onto the panel - whatever the search was for - as I adore the lady and think she is a brilliantly pithy judge. Mel C will give some interesting insights as a guest judge as she's a very honest woman and a great live performer who knows how to work an audience. Anyone who has seen her solo gigs or her stint in Blood Brothers will testify this.

With football overkill, tennis and the Olympics, Superstar will offer musical fans everything on a plate. Will it be as successful as the other shows? Well how do you measure that? In terms of ticket sales - the arena shows have sold like hot cakes before the show has even been broadcast due to some stunt casting.

I just have a few things on my wish list:

  1. Involve Tim Minchin in the show
  2. Make Melanie a full time judge
  3. Make the host say the line: "You Could still be Jesus."
That's all!

Superstar starts on ITV1 on Saturday 7 July and we will be blogging throughout the auditions and live shows.


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