F&M are back once more to look at one of the most crucial debates being addressed right now: is The Voice better than Britain's Got Talent?
In the battles of the judges, the two shows squared up with one a-piece - while Jessie is doubtless the hottest female judge, Sivid's bromance was unrivalled by The Voice's male coaching contingent.
As things hot up in both competitions, it's time to look at the serious shiz. Glamorous judges aside, it's the real people who make these shows. The nameless, sometimes faceless creatures who make up the substance of these talent extravaganzas. Yes, that's right, the crew.
Both shows this year have featured many 'supporting artists' not only helping the acts get where they need to be, touching up their make up, or accompanying their rehearsals, but also occasionally helping with plot exposition (like that security guard in Wayne's World).
Let's start with BGT - more than ever we see the acts in conversation with gaudily attired Crew, positively rattling with radios, headphones, and tool-belts, and with very carefully dishevelled hair.
It's so lucky that whenever they speak someone is there to pick it up on microphones! There's the usual, "okay, we're ready for you..." or the wonderfully personal yelling of a contestant number, but now we also get some 'informal chat" too. Like mini Piers Morgans, they interrogate the vulnerable participants, "So, are 'ou nervous? Have you come far? Do you fancy each other?" Stephen Mulhern is shitting himself.
These young, be-hoodied waifs occupy a world we like to call 'backstage'. The inverted commas here denote the gloriously artfully arranged 'backstage' seemingly created by Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen - choice flight cases, beautifully lit, branding on everything that stays still long enough, things with little flashy lights that appear to operate nothing, but do backlight Dec's hair exquisitely. It is a whimsical world, that doesn't resemble the faintly piss-smelling reality of most UK theatres.
The Voice is perhaps even more guilty of perpetuating this utterly imaginary 'backstage' world. At least in BGT they travel around, so probably actually use those enormous branded cases. The contestants of The Voice hover in a similar technical utopia, except we all know it's just a telly studio in Elstree.
Good to see that they money they saved on the judges' outfits they spent well on meaningless electrical paraphernalia. We don't get to know the crew quite as well at the BBC - they remain mute as they jab at young women with make-up brushes. What's most confusing about these creatures is they don't actually seem to display any real skill.
We certainly wouldn't trust them with a tail-comb that close to our eyes. But definitely not lacking in skill are the incredible musicians. From rehearsal room to live show, these guys play like ROCK GODS - trilling, riffing, arpeggiating, and funking the hell out of whatever they're got their hands on. Not that they told their faces. They don't look unhappy, per se, but it's a very British kind of apathetic. "Oh, it's raining again. Well, better just ride this beat like Seabiscuit." But undoubtedly there's a dignity to these musos, which acts as a very necessary counterbalance to Will.I.Am as a thing.
However, our absolute favourite extra is BGT's petite blonde lady who's job it is to pelt onto stage as fast as she can, and whisk away the mic that the contestants waffle into before doing their acrobatic/streetdance/magic/breaking-wind act. We imagine she spends most of the day playing Draw Something, until her ear-piece explodes with "GO GO GO GO GO", at which command she runs like Phoebe from Friends (probably screaming) to the middle of the stage, praying that the cameraman is pointing at Alesha or someone, while she grabs the stand (always crouching) and scuttles back to the mythical 'backstage' world, like an unseen technical elf. Except, the camera often does capture this wonderful moment, and no matter how small she may try to make herself, it's still really funny to see a woman run as fast as she can over a very short distance, while everyone else pretends they haven't seen her. Heart-warming stuff.
We thereby proclaim the winner of this round to be Britain's Got Talent - and we hope someone buys that girl a drink.
Soon we're into the live rounds of both shows, and we cannot wait to see the very finest of British talent, vocal and otherwise, square off once and for all. (We know Sam Buttery's already out. Like we said, looking forward to the finest talent... what?)