Stars In Their Eyes (1989)
Being a fan of Stars In Their Eyes (well the series hosted by Leslie Crowther and Matthew Kelly, let’s not think about the later specials and the revival), I had read that there was an unaired pilot made, and I have been interested in seeing that. The good news is that this recently turned up on YouTube, so credit goes to the uploader “Copied Right”.
The pilot is rather different to the familiar format that ran for over 15 years. Firstly, the host was Chris Tarrant. Now as much as I’ve enjoyed his hosting style over the years, I’ve never really been a big fan of his game shows (beyond Who Wants To Be A Millionaire of course), although he always puts a lot of energy into them. And of course, by the time the show did come to ITV in 1990, he had gone.
The basic idea was the same, with ordinary people being transformed into popular singers, and the studio audience deciding who the winner is. There was a different opening sequence and set design, definitely not as classy or shiny as what we’re familiar with. Chris also insisted that this was the sixth edition of the series, although I’m fairly sure there was only one pilot made. Already into the final (supposedly) was Peter the plumber as… Frank Sinatra!
This version was half-an-hour long, and featured four contestants, instead of the usual five. When the contestants were introduced, they stood on the stage, which featured some things that were linked to their work, as if to emphasise how ordinary they were, and that will make their pop star transformation all the more remarkable (this idea was also used in the early series). Just who will they be?
One major difference in the format is that after they announce who they will be (with the catchphrase not in place yet), they then walk over to a rack containing lots of costumes that will help them complete their look. I very much doubt that this is as spontaneous as they make it out to be though. They then go through the doors (not particularly “famous” as yet though).
Then they return, go down some stairs, and walk over to a rather small stage to sing live. Their behind the scenes transformation probably took much longer than it seems. Then the studio audience wave banners including “We Love You, Shirley!”. After all the contestants have performed, the studio audience then vote for their favourite (again, this doesn’t look very authentic at this stage), maybe if they got a full series they would install the proper voting technology (they could’ve borrowed the keypads from Chris’s other game show Everybody’s Equal).
The winner progresses to the grand final, and finishes the show by performing again, as lots of people gather round to offer their applause. In the pilot, the winner was Carol as Alison Moyet (not the same woman was the overall series champion in 1993 as Moyet though). Can you believe it, just a few minutes ago, she was a plain old cleaner, now she’s tonight’s winner. Sometimes, dreams really can come true.
This pilot of Stars In Their Eyes was fascinating to watch. I wonder why Chris didn’t take part in the series, but he did have lots of other shows on the go. Little did they realise at the time that the format (with a few changes that I think were for the better, creating a much more polished show) would be popular on ITV for so many years.