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The bland played on.

Byline: Kevin O'Sullivan

GUARANTEED disappointment for violinist Vanessa Mae after she announced on Popstar To Operastar: "I cannot stand listening to out-of-tune singing."

Well, Vanessa... you're in the wrong place.

"Can Is in g opera?" wondered The X Factor's forgotten hero-to-zero Joe McElderry. "I don't know." I do... and the answer's no.

Yep, it's back. The show that refused to die. Despite widespread lack of interest.

ITV's literate team still don't seem to understand there are no such words as popstar and operastar.

But at least they've made this year's line-up a tad more relevant than gardener Alan Titchmarsh, room-changer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and rock madman Meatloaf.

Quite what such a bizarrely inappropriate trio were doing on the last less-than-successful series remains something of a mystery.

So enter the new improved judging panel... the musical Ms Mae, all-round clever guy Simon Callow, Welsh wonder Kathryn Jenkins and crazy Mr Bean lookalike Rolando Villazon.

"That was almost a chakka chakka performance," boomed the over-enthusiastic Mexican tenor following Geordie Joe's reality telly assault on classical warbling.

Does Rolando think his meaningless "chakka chakka" is set to become a national catchphrase? If so, I've got bad news for him. It's not.

But in fairness, this is a pleasant programme. While none of the off-key contestants are destined to give Placido Domingo a run for his money, they're all eminently likeable people. And - going solo after the departure of her horticultural sidekick Titchmarsh - trained pianist and jungle bikini sensation Myleene Klass is a perfectly competent host.

Trouble is... the whole plodding production is just a bit bland. Muzak maestro. It's also rather banal.

Bucks Fizz veteran Cheryl Baker complained: "Why does it all have to be in French and German and Italian? I don't do languages." Gee Cheryl, I dunno ... maybe because the composers didn't come from Essex. Bloody foreigners!

And whisper it quietly... ITV needed much bigger names to hit the right note with the primetime Britain's Got Talent crowd.

No offence to the me - but I was 15 years." the 19th likes of American God- botherer Jocelyn Brown and the legendary Joseph Washbourn. But they were never going to cut the mustard. Sure enough... the ratings for last Sunday's opening salvo were hardly astronomical.

After a passable 4.3million tuned in for the main programme, only 3.3million returned for the results to see Midge Ure get the boot. Goodnight Vienna.

Meanwhile, is it because cashstrapped ITV is keen to flog home-grown PTO around the world that it's so packed with X Factorish clichs?

"I think this will be one of the hardest things they've ever had to do," parroted Ms Jenkins before the pop hopefuls queued up to confirm: "This is one of the hardest things I've ever done."

All we need tonight is for the erudite Mr Callow to say: "You nailed it." Like a certain other Simon we know...


You can let me know at the email address above

MADE In Chelsea diamond geezer Francis Boulle complains that no one believes he exists. Memo to Mr Boulle... on the off-chance that a spectacular tool like you actually does exist you might want to reinvent yourself.Fast.

SKY Living's strangely named schoolkids' makeover show Promzillas... and garishly-dressed style "expert" Brix Smith boasts: "You don't know this about me - but I was a pop star for 15 years."When? In the 19th Century?

EASTENDERS... David (not Joey) Essex joins the cast as Uncle Eddie Moon. Yet another long-lost relative. Yawn. But 70s heartthrob Dave has the charisma almost all of his nonentity Albert Square co-stars lack. Rock on.


In tune... Vanessa and Myleene
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 12, 2011
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