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Thread: Stars in their Eyes

  1. #1
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    Default Stars in their Eyes

    A rather brief synopsis of a Saturday evening programme for a change - admittedly it doesn't have the same feel as weekday programmes do, but it was still entertaining nevertheless. Yes, we are talking about a spring Saturday evening in the 1990s - sometime around March to June for around ten weeks. We are also talking Granada Television here, and so therefore it was not quite as jazzy and metropolitan as LWT down south, even though Granada took over the company in 1994.

    In July 1990 when it was launched, the opening titles consisted of people doing everyday jobs such as window cleaning, washing the dishes in a hotel, building, etc, only for their silhouette shadow counterpart to mimic someone singing or dancing. Cue (in those days) good old Leslie Crowther, looking as "Clark Kent" as ever, except he was wearing contact lenses at that point. (I met Crowther myself in 1987 when he was helping open a local shop in his birthplace city of Nottingham, which albeit closed so many years ago). The punters used to meet Crowther on stage with a background illustration of what their occupation is, almost in What's My Line? style. A blackboard with something written on it indicated that our "contestant" was a teacher for example - or someone who had not quite finished their mainstream education. After a brief chat with the host, they announce who they are going to be, and manage to get changed and into make up, hairstyling in two seconds (more like two hours in reality) and come out again as the doppelganger of a famous musician. Repeat five times until the end of that week's show.

    Obviously it went on for around ten weeks per series - true Reality TV style, the audience voted on who was the best singer rather than the best lookalike (so in that case, why bother with the costumes then?) And eventually, a series winner emerges at the end. This was mostly what happened throughout Crowther's tenure up until 1992 when he had that crash and couldn't return to present again, which was a pity as I thought that he was the best host for the job. I don't remember the Elvis special that Russ Abbot did, although I am sure that it held its own as a special. And then Mr and Mrs Public were invited to vote - at around 48p a minute.

    Then came Matthew Kelly as host with plenty of Saturday night exposure on ITV thanks to You Bet! and of course, Game for a Laugh, making Kelly the only person apart from Beadle to have a good stretch of Saturday evening shows on ITV from the early 1980s to the late 1990s. The Kelly era was also when I think was what most viewers would associate Stars in... with, in particular, the famous catchphrase of: "tonight Matthew, I'm gonna be..." Madonna, Elton, John, George Michael etc.. Of course, only solo artistes were permitted because the impersonation of a group would need a multiple number of people taking part, even though dancers are seen supporting the punter on stage. I have seen two people perform as a double act on the show, possibly as Simon and Garfunkel. Kelly worked well as a host because camp hosts are successful if one thinks of Dale Winton and more recently, Rylan Clark-Neal. I often think of Matthew Kelly as cross between Jeremy Beadle and Dale Winton in a way.

    In the mid 1990s I read in one of the Sunday tabloids that a woman wanted to take part as Michael Jackson - she looked like Jacko, and that was her main defence, but the producers said that only men could appear as men, and the same for women. One man looked and sounded like Cliff Richard so much that when he once met Sir Cliff, he thought that he was taking the Mickey out of him. As I mentioned when I started Joe Longthorne's obituary thread, there is a huge difference between doing an impression or an impersonation of someone such as Cilla Black, and doing a cover version of Anyone Who Had a Heart - indeed, when "Cilla" was featured on the show, they made the female participant look as if she was about to present Blind Date circa 1991 rather than show her as a 21 year old back in 1964 when she originally had the hit.

    The episodes used to get shown on Challenge quite a bit, and I think that they had their work cut out when it came to the finals where Premium Rate telephone numbers were displayed, even though they start with 09 these days and not 08 as they did back in the 1990s. Also, being a Granada series I had always been intrigued by the costumes worn and wondered whether other actors had worn them before such as those who appear on Coronation Street and other dramas made by the ITV company. I have always said that Stars in their Eyes was literally "karaoke and fancy dress", and also I never liked the late 1990s logo which made the show look as if it was called "In Stars Eyes Their" written on it. One cannot be Shakin' Stevens just because one owns a denim jacket and a pair of tight jeans - one had to sound like Shaky as well in order to qualify.

    And then in the late 1990s we got the introduction from the Mr or Ms Public taking part - an intriguing one minute film showing them working in an office, pub or shop or looking after the kids at home, and often mentioning that they like singing in their spare time, hence the capability for applying for the show. They come on stage, have a chat with Matthew, and a minute later come out as Kate Bush or whoever - almost certainly doing Babooshka. One point to make is that, in most TV series such as soap operas, we see celebrities playing members of the public, but on Stars in their Eyes, we had the transposition of the members of the public actually play the celebrities, mostly of the A-list kind. I have also wondered in the same vein that Tommy Cooper got payment for work that he never even did himself by virtue of impressionists doing his voice in TV adverts, and so whether the real artistes that the punters take off actually get royalties as a result of their voice or song being used in the show? - after all, in many ways what is performed is in a way part of the copyright of the person who would be strongly associated with it.

    Another point would be the fact that if a Tom Jones fan had actually watched Stars in their Eyes and has seen a punter do Tom Jones, would that have just as much interest as if Jones himself were performing? It is nice that the real stars saw their songs as a tribute to themselves, and not react in an "are you taking the Mickey out of me?" sort of way. Chris de Burgh commended Ian Moor and paid tribute to him for winning by successfully covering Lady in Red - it is nice that it was officially recognised. By 1998 the celebrity version of the show kicked in, and that meant that despite appearing on every other TV show in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Carol Vorderman still had time to appear on the show as Cher doing the Shoop-Shoop Song.

    But then, the early 2000s arrived and Cat Deeley took over presenting duties (after Kelly's problems at the time), when she hosted with the kids' version; the celebrity version and indeed the Coronation Street version, thanks to Granada making both series - cue David Neilson swapping one Roy for another - Cropper for Orbison. And don't get me started on Harry Hill's version from a few years ago - and the punters who seem to be so articulate that they seem to look as if they were actors.

    After the Harry Hill version, I do think that the show should now be left in the past - and no I don't think that Rylan or Keith Lemon should revive it, even if comparisons with Matthew Kelly could be ironically made as a result...
    Telling it almost exactly like it was so many years later - and proud of doing so!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Stars in their Eyes

    My Dad's mate's daughter appeared on Stars as Heather Small from M People, after that she used to do tribute gigs.

    I used to quite enjoy "Karaoke Challenge" too with Suggs and a monkey years later on Challenge TV.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Stars in their Eyes

    Quote Originally Posted by Mulletino View Post
    My Dad's mate's daughter appeared on Stars as Heather Small from M People, after that she used to do tribute gigs.

    I used to quite enjoy "Karaoke Challenge" too with Suggs and a monkey years later on Challenge TV.
    I remember that episode as i loved Stars In Their Eyes, she was very good as Heather Small! ☺

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Stars in their Eyes

    Watched this show regularly, two standout performances for me were John lennon and also Shirley bassey. Point of interest...did you know that Lesley crowther was the father in law of Thin lizzy singer Phil lynott (RIP)
    ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN IN THE NEXT HALF HOUR.

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    Default Re: Stars in their Eyes

    The thing about the show was that it was a showcase for the public to be talented enough to impersonate someone who was already famous - my point is that, if one is talented, then why don't they develop their own unique act? There is a difference between doing Rory Bremner-type impressions of celebrities, and actually pretending to be one for example. I filled in a BGT application form a few years ago, but got put off when I realised that I would have to be thick-skinned to take all the criticism that would have been thrown at me.
    Telling it almost exactly like it was so many years later - and proud of doing so!

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Stars in their Eyes

    We saw some guy singing a song Id never heard before .. Losing My Religion.. ( REM )
    I loved the song so much I bought all their albums and followed them for years

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    Default Re: Stars in their Eyes

    Quote Originally Posted by tex View Post
    Watched this show regularly, two standout performances for me were John lennon and also Shirley bassey. Point of interest...did you know that Lesley crowther was the father in law of Thin lizzy singer Phil lynott (RIP)
    Yes, I did - however, did you know that Crowther's first name was spelt "Leslie"? - Lesley is usually the female spelling (Leslie Ash excepted).
    Telling it almost exactly like it was so many years later - and proud of doing so!

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    Default Re: Stars in their Eyes

    Quote Originally Posted by George 1978 View Post
    The thing about the show was that it was a showcase for the public to be talented enough to impersonate someone who was already famous - my point is that, if one is talented, then why don't they develop their own unique act? There is a difference between doing Rory Bremner-type impressions of celebrities, and actually pretending to be one for example. I filled in a BGT application form a few years ago, but got put off when I realised that I would have to be thick-skinned to take all the criticism that would have been thrown at me.
    Apart from the title connecting it to this thread, this song always strikes a chord with the reality shows and how they treat the contestants:


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Stars in their Eyes

    I remember the cleaning lady who won performing as Maria Callas, almost a Susan Boyle of her time but didn't stay in the public eye for long.
    The Trickster On The Roof

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Stars in their Eyes

    And of course there was the Reeves and Mortimer (I think) parody of it, which I think was a bit controversial.
    Telling it almost exactly like it was so many years later - and proud of doing so!

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