As Strictly and X-Factor slug it out for Saturday night supremacy, an unlikely challenger has punched its way to the top of the ratings – 'Britain’s Got Judges' – where wannabe judges vie for a lucrative one-year judging contract on other talent shows.
The show aims to uncover the best new judging talent in the country, and has been hailed as a 'shot in the arm' by many performers who welcome the fresh approach to spouting off the new-comers bring.
Starting with a 100 foot long panel of 20 judges back in July, audiences have seen the amateur arbiters advise, condemn then praise the same four session singers, with the least popular judge voted off each week, leaving three would-be professional pontificators going into the final this weekend.
'Judging is my dream - always has been' sobbed 28-year-old Liverpool hairdresser Sarah Hughes. 'I’ve been judging in pubs and clubs for years now and this is my last chance. This means everything to me. If only me nan was here...'
Fellow finalist Paul Kopanias, a hairdresser from East London, echoed this desire to be the last judge sitting on Sunday. 'I started judging as a kid in my bedroom, watching Top of the Pops from behind a desk, mouthing platitudes and put-downs after each act. It’s been a dream come true to get this far, but I want to go all the way. It’ll just come down to how I judge on the night.'
Rounding out the final three, Shane Daniels, the Glasgow hairdresser who has made the 'trick U-turn' comment his own, added, 'To be honest...it isn't good that I've made it to the final…it’s great that I’ve got to the final! Actually...I don’t want to win…I need to win! This doesn’t, in fact, mean everything to me…it’s more important than that!”
Social commentators have pointed out that the phenomenal success of the show may signal a shift in the aspirations of young people who are no longer prepared to put in the time and effort needed to win a singing contest as their short cut to fame, and see judging as the ultimate free ride to riches, while Sharon Osbourne and Dr Fox have also protested that this is not fair on hard-working judges who had to slog their way up to the top table.
Despite the naysayers, however, the success of ‘Britain’s Got Judges’ has definitely not gone unnoticed among channel bosses with ‘How to Judge Good Naked’, ‘Celebrity Judge Island’ and ‘Cowell’s Judging Nightmares’ already in the pipeline for the new year.