It may not sound too absurd on paper, but trust me when I say it is an absolute RIDE in practise (Picture: BBC)
I regret to announce that I think I’m in love with the BBC’s new critically panned, divisively received and exceptionally bizarre new gameshow I Can See Your Voice.
It ‘baffles’ viewers, said The Mirror. It ‘falls flat,’ said the Radio Times. It ‘should be handed over to the state to be destroyed,’ demanded The Guardian.
And make no mistake, they’re not wrong.
At first, the show made me wonder if I’d passed into a new dimension where the kinds of programmes that exist on The Simpsons are actually real; or if the BBC had belatedly hit play on something they’d prepped for April Fool’s Day.
But in the space of 55 gloriously unhinged minutes, I found myself evolving from ‘what in the sacred name of Alison Hammond is this?!’ to ‘this is potentially the greatest hour of my life’.
For those unaware, I Can See Your Voice is a prime-time Saturday night show that feels like it was made by people who looked at The Masked Singer – in which celebs dress in identity-concealing costumes and have hapless judges like Jonathan Ross wonder if they’re icons who died several years ago – and thought ‘hmm, feels too plain’.
It’s a South Korea-born format in which contestants are faced with six allegedly amazing singers, each with archetypal nicknames (‘Rising Star’, ‘The Teacher’, ‘Party King’, the ‘Pitch Perfect’ rugby player, and so on).
Trouble is, some of them aren’t singers at all – they’re completely tone-deaf. And when they each lipsync to a pre-recorded track, the genuine ones mime to their own vocals, while the impostors mime to a stranger’s.
Over the course of an episode, the contestants – with the help of Alison Hammond, Jimmy Carr, Amanda Holden and a guest popstar panellist – have to gradually suss out and eliminate the duds, until only the actual good ones remain.
If they’re left at the end with a legitimate singer, they win £10,000. But if they end up keeping one of the impostors, it’s the impostor who takes home the cash.
It may not sound too absurd on paper, but trust me when I say it is an absolute RIDE in practise – and it’s the weirdest show on Amanda Holden’s CV since that Andrew Lloyd-Webber one where she’d end each episode with an emphatic ‘give it up… for our remaining Jesuses!’.
The jewel in its crown is the moment when the eliminated singers perform live, with their real voices, for the first time.
Given that the contestants’ victory hinges on them getting rid of the crap ones, what happens is a magnificently jarring situation where the performers are met with emphatic applause and euphoria if they’re bad, and misery and anger if they’re incredible.
There was a moment in episode one when the ‘Queen of Clubs’ was knocked out and – after an over-wrought moment of tension that would make Dermot’s results show pauses on The X Factor look subtle – exploded into the worst, most diabolical rendition of Black Box’s Ride On Time that’s ever been heard by human ears.
I haven’t seen such a joyful response to a TV sing-song since Susan Boyle auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent.
Alison is, of course, a joy (Picture: BBC)
Conversely, when stacked rugby player ‘Pitch Perfect’ was eliminated and was revealed to actually be a genuine guitar-strumming crooner with a voice like a warm cuddle, everyone looked ready to riot.
It’s madness. But after starting the episode feeling kind of nostalgic for the seven-hundred-hour-long Prince Philip coverage the night before, by the end I was cheering and laughing along like I was right there with them; hanging out with blond bombshell Paddy McGuinness myself.
What can I say? The chaos is addictive. And said chaos extends beyond the actual performances.
Whereas on The Masked Singer (now apparently an example of level-headed programming) we get clue packages to decipher, on I Can See Your Voice loads the detective work boils down to Alison referring to pointers she got from some kind of ‘liar course’ she undertook a few years ago (not that it helped her: she wrongly thought one guy was a fake singer because he ‘looked to the left’).
But Alison is, of course, a joy. Actually, the whole panel – clearly there to have fun – works pretty well together.
I think the thing that just about saves I Can See Your Voice is the absence of pretension. There’s just enough of a wink to camera to stop it being overly earnest rubbish.
Don’t get me wrong, everyone on-screen is taking it seriously – they want the contestants to win £10k, after all – but there’s fun to be had, too.
And maybe my brain’s just been so battered by boredom that I’d gladly lap up a show called Paint Drying Live! With Stephen Mulhern, but sod it… I can’t wait for the next instalment on Saturday.
Right now, this is just the kind of ludicrous fun I’m in the market for.
Credit: Original article published here.