Like millions of others I am gripped by Britain’s Got Talent. But I do wonder how responsible it is to put very young children on a stage like this. In Tuesday’s semi-final, the first three places were taken by children under the age of 14. There’s no denying that they were all very talented, but are they being judged by the same standards as the adult competitors.
I have never seen Simon Cowell rip a child to shreds in the same way that he does with an adult. I’m not saying he should, but maybe it’s time to separate the kids from the adults. Jack Carroll, a 14 year old comedian with cerebral palsey was indeed funny. He writes his own jokes. Gabz is a 14 year old female rap singer who writes her own material and is genuinely talented. But were they actually better than Alice Fredenham a singer with a voice like liquid gold, according to Cowell? No, but they have the ‘ahhhhh’ factor and she doesn’t.
Think back four years when a young girl – she can’t have been more than 10 – collapsed in tears during a live performance and had to be comforted by Amanda Holden. I repeat, this was live on TV. It was certainly a gripping moment, and the audience was transfixed, but it was exploitative in the extreme. It also leads a generation of children to believe that the way to be successful in life is to appear on TV. In some ways I don’t blame ITV or Simon Cowell for this, I blame the parents who allow their children to be exploited in this way. Some of the parents push their children to the limits so they can bask in their reflected glory. I’m not saying this happens in every case, but it is far too prevalent for my liking. Why would a parent put this kind of pressure on a child? I am sure in many cases it’s the child who is pushing to do it, but most responsible parents know that very often, you just have to say ‘no’.