Having just been through the process of auditioning for Britain’s Got Talent I can tell you there is more to it than meets the eye. First things first the audition process you see on TV is not the first stage of the competition. I started off by sending in a video of my act in my bedroom, as well as filling out a load of information to send off to the company. Shortly after this I was contacted to go to a local audition. This is when I realised things were going to take a while and if you wish to read about the main event jump to the 6th paragraph.
Before heading down to the audition I was informed I had to bring my own amp, microphone or anything else I would need in my act, which I thought was strange considering their a big company and would have such items themselves. Once I arrived at the audition and was informed that I could skip the first stage as I had passed that section already from what I had sent in. it seemed I was fast tracked to the “producer round” in which I would be filmed and interviewed for the first time in a small hall.
After a long wait I was called in to the room. Behind the desk was a guy sat down next to him was a “boom box” looking stereo and to the side of him the camera man. They allowed me to setup and took a CD from me to play. This however did not work on the system but rest assured I had a backup on my phone which was fine. Before I knew it I was on camera being asked general questions about myself and the act. Then I set off playing my song. Once it was all over they thanked me and gave me a sheet of paper which informed me that if I didn’t hear anything by February I would have not got it.
Within a week I was called up to say I had been whittled down and had a potential spot. I had to give more details and go over what I put in my questionnaire. It was as if they were trying to catch me out to make sure what I had send off before was all true. I was told after that if it goes well I would be contacted again. Low and behold I got another phone call saying I had been shortlisted. I now had to send my songs off to the music researcher to make sure there were no copyright issues. After this point the emails and phone calls picked up and I was having to say what my act involves, how long it takes, what I will need etc. etc. Yet I was still being told I was on the shortlist even though I had been given a day and place in which to go to.
About 5 days before the date I was contacted one last time to say I had got in. Although it had taken a long time to get to this point they had been very helpful and kind up to it and I was keen to meet them in person.
I arrived in my full getup after I long journey to Birmingham in the van with my parents. We pulled up to the main entrance and the security went and asked inside what they would like me to do. I was told I had to go in and register and feel out yet another release form which I had done 3 times already. After this I was met by a member of the team who wanted to film my arrival in the van and get shots of me walking in. It was from this point on that my day started to become hectic.
Once we were ready a bunch of the crew rolled up and setup a car cam and put wireless mics on us all. The sound men then hopped into the back of the van and we were all told where to sit and what to talk about. It was quite obvious at this point that everything was going to be acted or scripted throughout the day. Once we set off my Mum kept mentioning everything she possibly can that she was told to talk about, all within the space of a minute, which to me seemed very unnatural. Anything we missed out we were told to just mention as we arrived. Once this was done they wanted to take a load of shots of us getting out the car and walking into the building as if we had just got there. I’d also point out we had to do all of this without our coats to make out it was being shot in the summer, which in February it most certainly was not warm at all.
Finally we got into the warm and I got to sit down, all be it for about 2 minutes before I was taken to the main stage to test my equipment and do a practice run a few times. This helped a lot as I got to see the auditorium and make sure my song sounded good before I was live. Once I was happy they took me back to the holding room.
After a few minutes I was swept up again and taken back stage to get ready for an interview with Ant and Dec. This again was made out to look like I was sat waiting to be called out and they just so happened to come and see me. However it is all pre-determined on what they will ask me and I was told where to sit and what to expect. The talk with them was a great. Within seconds I forgot that they were celebrities and just stared having a general conversation with them about myself and the act. They were very nice and supporting which helped me calm down. Once the interview was over I was whisked back to the holding room, but on the way there I was informed that Stephen Mulhern wanted to interview me for BG More Talent for ITV2.
I got a chance to sit down for about 5 minutes before going into the interview again it was all pre-setup and I was told about the format and where to stand. It all seemed all much more laid back and there was a blasé attitude compared to ITV1, but I was told it was meant to be this way and I could say whatever I liked as it did not matter. I found this interview slightly obscure yet very funny. Stephen was a very upbeat character that kept cracking jokes or saying silly things. I did my best to bounce off of him with comebacks. I started to feel like I was with a friend that understood my sense of humor and we were bouncing off each other. The crew at times were trying to hold back laughing as we continued through the interview.
Next up I had to do a photo shoot with a few live action shots in front of a glittery background. I was told I was a natural in front of the camera and made the guy’s job easier. I said I was used to filming myself and I treated it as if I was doing a modelling shoot. Once many shots / me dancing about was taken I headed back to the holding room for my first sit down of the day.
Once in the holding room I was called up every now and then to do more cutaways such as miming my song into a mirror or putting my makeup on. After this I had to do many interviews which more or less asked the same questions about me and my life and my act. Once I answered them I was told how to rephrase my answer and say it the way they recommended. At certain points I was told to say things like “my keytar makes me sexier” not only that but people were told to sit behind me and pretend they don’t know what was going on. Both my mum and dad got a chance to be in these shots with other people. My dad in particular was told to talk to a lady about her performance as if they had just met however this was all being recorded and every now and then they were come over and say ask such and such.
Finally after many interviews in the holding room, which seemed to focus on how mad I was for the 80s and wanted it to be back and I was the man for the job, I was taken backstage to prepare for going out on stage. Whilst there I was told to talk to other contestants about what their doing and what they think about the judges and the buzzers. It seemed to me that everything you see on TV, aka where it looks like people are having a natural conversations, is all pre-determined and setup. Which to be honest is not much of a shock as they need to get the best and right things said to make a good show.
Finally my time had come. I was taken to the stage side where I met Ant and Dec again it was my time to perform. As I walked out the judges looked fed up this may be because they had been there since 3 and now it was about 9:30pm. However the audience were clapping and seemed upbeat. I knew that it was going to be hard to get them into the mood and was hoping my song could do it. I was greeted my Alesha Dixon who asked me the general questions for my introduction. One of which was “did you write and create all of your songs” to which I replied with a line from Little Britain. “I sing the theme tune I play the theme tune I right the theme tune” in which I got a few laughs. At this point Simon, with his snobbish attitude, butted in and said mark are you a comedian or a recording artist. I replied with “I am an entertainer, I do as much as I can”. He then said “no mark what are you here for” and repeated the question. I paused and said “well I am a comedian but today I am a recording artist”. He then said “ok lets here it”.
This is when the production team came back on and set me up ready to go once they left I did the classic thumbs up to Ant and Dec and was away singing my song. Everything seemed to be going well until I hit the first note on my keytar and Simon hit the buzzer, which to be honest I was anticipating from the start. After I finished playing keytar I looked up and noticed that Amanda and Alisha had also hit it. I questioned in my head if my keytar was set wrong as I know I did not hit the wrong keys. I looked to
My side and saw Dec dancing away and the audience were all clapping away having a blast to. David was bobbing his head about and I was hoping I had won him over, however as soon as I started to play the Keytar again he went from dancing to just hitting the buzzer. The audience booed this decision but there was nothing more I could do.
I was expecting to be told my keytar sounded crap and that it ruined it. However only Simon said “I don’t like that thing what is that monstrosity” David’s reason was that he was expecting a funny song and it was not. I’m not sure what Alisha said but I think it was its not her thing. Amanda said “just no” I then replied “no what? and why?” she said “well mark the 80’s should be left in the 80’s we don’t need you to bring it back”. The audience booed again as if they were the bad guys at the panto. I felt as if all the question I had been asked in interview about the 80’s and how much I love it were told to the judges and they were trying to provoke a response to make good TV. There was not one comment from them to subject my talent or skills were at fault. It was either they don’t like the instrument or they were not into the 80s style.To be honest how can this be a good enough reason to judge me on as it is a talent show not a what’s there personal preference show.
I left the stage thanking them for their time and not giving an outrageous reaction slating there ludicrous points of view.Ant and Dec were bemused as they thought David was loving it. The rest of the production team said they had no idea and it’s out of their hands once I’m out on stage. One member of the team then came to take me out and as I was leaving Simon came through the doors and said sorry about that mark. I just said don’t worry it’s all showbiz and I can’t control your personal opinion. I thanked him for seeing me and left. Which I think left him feeling a bit bemused as he may have been expecting me to act a little more up tight.
I was taken back to film shots of a reunion with my parents, in which I was told to hug them and talk about my feelings. This was not the end of the day though as there were a few shots they never took earlier which they wanted now. I had to do a few walking about on stairs and then I had to pretend I had not been on stage yet and talk to my parents about what my feelings are and expectations which was very strange and it was just as well I was not in a mood otherwise it would have shown. Finally after a very long day they let me leave. I won’t know until April if anything will even be aired but I can say that from the entire day if anything I enjoyed the attention, the feeling like i’m a star and meeting people, different acts and celebrity’s. Overall it was an experience of a live recorded TV broadcast which was quite eye opening.
However now seeing the final edit it was clear i was set up to fall and they tried to make it look like the audience were not on board which was not the case at all. the entire thing is very contrived and it just opened my eyes to what you should believe on TV as they cut out so much just to suite them self’s whilst ridiculing someone in the process.