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Surrender to the BGT black hole.

THE Human League once imagined a song so popular and ubiquitous that it became a black hole gobbling up everything in its path: "How can it stay at the top, when it's swallowed all the shops?" Phil Oakey could have been singing about Britain's Got Talent, the black hole that, last week, seemed to suck in all other television, and the lives of its hapless viewers.

I know it's traditional for these talent show monoliths to milk their popularity, but even by those standards this was excessive.

If you were following it - and our household was, for its sins - you were called upon to surrender your entire week to its punishing schedule. Two hours a night, then a two-and-a-half-hour final. I watched nothing else all week. By Thursday the judges' neon crosses were appearing as hallucinatory after-images in my sight.

At this rate, the next X Factor will be a 24-hour event beamed unavoidably into every home and workplace like the face of Big Brother. That is our future.

The weekday stages whittled down the competitors, clearing away the chaff of novelty acts and one-trick ponies. There was plenty of deadwood.

David Walliams said the judges were searching for a world-class star. This was stretching a point after they put through the man with the Dalek voice, wearing a pan on his head, to the semi-finals. And the funny-unfunny Latvian comic, the camp dancers, the lovably geeky laser harp guy, the xylophonist... they were there to entertain us, then they had to go.

That said, the fella with the baffling golden arms was unexpectedly transformed, with a decent budget, into a strangely stunning, soaring act.

Walliams brought much-needed humour to the proceedings as the tides of over-the-top praise and hyperbole - usually preceded by the annoying phrase "You know what?" - grew wearying. Even Simon Cowell, the only judge who talks any real sense, gushed over some mediocre acts.

The dancing dog won. Now, don't get me wrong, Ashleigh and Pudsey were worthy winners. They were adorable, charming and fun. But I couldn't help feeling that, say, the male voice choir could have done a bit more with the pounds 500,000 prize.

Personally, I had a soft spot for the Lovable Rogues who - terrible title aside - seemed to be doing resolutely their own thing, not tainted or corrupted by the needs of a bombastic talent show, and with a genuine knack for catchy tunes.

Then there was Malaki. The nine-year-old gave a great first performance, nervous but assured, pure and soulful. By the semis he looked like a seasoned crooner. You could virtually see the show smoothing away his rough edges, diluting his raw talent before it had a chance to be nurtured.

You sense he was voted off by a sympathetic public which wanted to halt this heartbreaking process. He's better off out of it. Hopefully he'll step back and, later, when he's ready, emerge a proper star.

Twitter: @EGOutsideTheBox.
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:May 14, 2012
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