At one point I was convinced that the mad woman who stormed the stage was Britain's Got Talent's biggest critic Bruce Forsyth in drag venting his anger on former Strictly Come Dancing judge Alesha Dixon, until I decided that his legs were too shapely and feminine to pass for those of an eighty-something-year-old pensioner who refuses to retire. After watching Saturday night's incident during the live final, I've come to the conclusion that violinist Natalie Holt is a deeply bitter human being who succeed in making a valid point - one we had known all along but chose to ignore. Pelting the judging panel during operatic duo Richard and Adam's rendition of The Impossible Dream was definitely a step too far, with Amanda Holden branding her a "stupid cow", and Simon Cowell rediscovering his hated for eggs. Even eventual winners Attraction who were overshadowed by Holt agree that "...she is a stupid girl". Yet with all the controversy caused, there's some sense in Holt's subsequent statement which revealed that she was taking a stand against Cowell.
As most of you are aware, I'm an avid fan of reality talent shows like Britain's Got Talent and The X Factor; a couple of years ago I wrote reviews for the Danish version of the latter and applied to audition for Talent. These programmes may have attracted criticism from a fraction of the viewing public, but one cannot deny that these shows are entertaining. In the words of Dermot O'Leary, "Your Saturday night starts right here!" (Mine started with Harry Hill's TV Burp, but as the show is now off-air we'll let that past), and indeed we have gradually seen the return of an era when the weekend was compulsory family viewing, before Rupert Murdoch ruined everything with Sky TV. We have these shows to thank for the careers of Paul Potts, Susan Boyle, JLS, Leona Lewis, and my favourite X Factor contestant Rhydian. Only a handful of contestants have won or indeed achieved great success, but the world of show-business is fickle; many are called but few are chosen.
Although Holt later apologised for sabotaging Richard and Adam's otherwise perfect performance, it turns out that this was only to avoid having to face charges. She later declared that as a musician who had studied in various institutions, she felt frustrated with reality show formats which exploit contestants, and blamed the situation on Cowell's influence on the music industry. As much as I wish to disagree, she does have a point. In recent years experts who had voiced what Holt merely echoed include Sting, Elton John, and Chris Evans. Even Rod Stewart and Robbie Williams who at different times guest-mentored singers on The X Factor couldn't resist taking a dig at the show in the press; with Williams questionable talent - he himself has admitted that he's not much of a singer - it is a wonder that he continues to release best-selling albums and perform live on tour. Speaking of limited skills, it is no longer news that BGT and The X Factor support mere entertainment over talent. Acts like Chico, John & Edward, Wagner, and most recently Rylan were made to believe that they could have longevity in their careers when in reality they were tuneless. By putting them through to the live shows, the place of truly talented singers have been robbed. Former X Factor judge Cheryl Cole confirmed that the producers occasionally give priority to 'watchable' contestants, which explains why the deluded Katie Waissel was chosen over the soulful Gamu in 2010. In the case of BGT, how often do the judges buzz off sub-standard performers, only to change their minds seconds later as soon as they notice these acts offer entertainment value unlike singers on the BBC's rival show The Voice which in contrast only allows real talent but constantly slips in the ratings? As I once said of Jamie Bruce, a former X Factor contestant who claims that The Voice saved his life: If you want credibility, go on The Voice. If you simply want to be famous, go on The X Factor.
Holt's boyfriend Chris Waitt has since defended her by claiming: "She objects to those kind of shows and to Simon Cowell and what he represents to the music industry", but he fails to add that she had been a BGT contestant herself in 2012 with her classical band Raven Quartet. Similar acts who auditioned in the past include Escala and Sue Son in 2008 and 2009 respectively, both of whom are now pursuing fairly successful careers. Although Raven managed to impress the judges during their audition, they failed to breeze through to the live semis, leading to one of the members posting a scathing entry on their official blog which has since been deleted, but it is clear that they craved the spotlight for themselves, and saw BGT as a platform to promote themselves. Judging by their past, it is clear that these girls are bitter, and it is possible that Holt is still angry with Cowell for personal reasons.
While I agree with Holt's reasons for disrupting the show, her decision to actually go through with it has ruined any chances of being taken seriously as an artist. She may have received messages of support from fellow musicians, but the question remains: will she ever work in this town again? Even the other three members of Raven have hinted that she may be fired from the group. Sabotaging Richard and Adam's performance was uncalled for, an act with has earned her fifteen minutes of fame for all the wrong reasons. As a BAFTA-nominated musician, she could have used her craft to promote her message of rebellion. Rage Against the Machine successfully did it in 2009, beating X Factor winner Joe McElderry to the Christmas Number One spot; Holt could have gathered numerous classical artists to record a protest song as opposed to promoting vandalism on a family show, but she chose eggs over skill. I have a feeling that next year, following Holt's dismissal, the other members of Raven will audition for BGT a second time, and Cowell will put them through to spite his attacker. Now that's proper TV...