Helen Bach: Capturing spirit of Saturday night TV

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I loved Stars In Their Eyes, the prime-time, Saturday-night, karaoke- with-a-twist TV show.

It started in 1990, and was originally presented by Leslie Crowther, then Matthew Kelly.

Who could forget the famous line uttered by all the competitors during his reign – ‘Tonight Matthew I’m going to be...’ – and then finally by Cat Deeley, until its demise in 2006.

For the uninitiated, it involved turning members of the public into lookalikes and soundalikes of famous singers.

The competitors would talk to the host, then disappear through a door on stage, re-emerging through a cloud of dry ice looking uncannily like their musical heroes.

The challenge was to then sing like them too.

The most memorable – for me anyway – were Chris de Burgh and Freddie Mercury, who I can only hope went on to have successful careers on the tribute act circuit.

ITV has now tried to re-invent this formula with its new celeb version called Your Face Sounds Familiar.

I wish I could say I watch it ironically, but I don’t – it appeals to me in just the same way as Stars in Their Eyes did.

Each week the competitors – Alexander Armstrong, Bobby Davro, Matt Johnson, Natalie Anderson, Cheryl Fergison and Denise Lewis – have to look, and sing, like a chosen musical icon.

The winner, voted for by a mixture of in-studio judges (Emma Bunton, Julian Clary and a guest) plus phone-in public vote, then receives £10,000 for their chosen charity.

The new twist is that a computer – gloriously and hilariously named the Randomizer – selects for them who they’re going to be each week, and sometimes it picks a different gender artist.

So far, this has resulted in Cheryl Fergison singing as Meatloaf – she was very good, actually – Denise Lewis as Lenny Kravitz (not so good), and Matt Johnson as Taylor Swift (appalling, but he tried hard).

But stand-out, genuinely-good performances for all the right reasons, include Natalie Anderson who’s won for two weeks running, firstly as Britney Spears then as Kate Bush (spookily like the original Wuthering Heights) and Cheryl Fergison, who won the first week as Dusty Springfield.

Yes, it’s cheesy; sometimes even a little risqué, courtesy of double-entendre comments from Mr Clary, but all-in-all, it channels the spirit of Saturday-night TV entertainment which all the family can watch together, which is, of course, the ultimate aim.

Read more from Helen here.