‘Your Face Sounds Familiar’ (ITV) Review

ITV’s much-publicised Your Face Sounds Familiar began on Saturday night. It’s a simple format: six celebrities each week take to the stage as a different music legend, the identity of which is chosen by the Randomiser (or ‘Ramdoniser’, as Paddy accidentally called it), all in the hope of accumulating enough votes from the judges, their fellow performers and the viewers at home (during a six minute-long phone vote) to be crowned that night’s winner and therefore win £10,000 for their chosen charity. Then the following week they do it all again – only as different people and with a different guest judge.

FRIVOLOUS FUN’

Every part of me is telling me that I shouldn’t like Your Face Sounds Familiar. I really want to write it off as the epitome of car-crash TV, just as I did with Splash! in January. I can’t, though, because I actually enjoyed it. I mean let’s face it, it’s just a bit of Saturday night frivolous fun – Celebrity Stars in Their Eyes on a larger scale.

Absolutely everything about it was typical of an ITV Saturday night offering. The set was bright and  loud, the format was interactive and an excitable audience filled the studio. Is the fact that it is an archetype of primetime ITV such a bad thing, though? My problem with Splash! was that it was boring – we waited ten minutes to see a ten second belly flop. Your Face Sounds Familiar on the other hand is far from boring. It is in fact very entertaining and quite plainly does not take itself remotely seriously. Plus, as Rob Brydon’s much-overlooked creation Keith Barret used to say, it’s just a bit of fun! Why are audiences always looking for sophistication and class when it comes to entertainment shows? Most people don’t treat sitcoms like that – I can enjoy Mrs Brown’s Boys just as much as The Office, and find Miranda as funny as The Royle Family. Whether it’s garish or subtle, surely the most important thing is that it’s funny? And it’s exactly the same with entertainment shows: if it can get people’s bums on seats and brighten up their living rooms, who cares if they have Matt from This Morning rocking out as Jon Bon Jovi, or Julian Clary making a joke about pubic hair?

#BLOODYHASHTAGS

One person who did take the show seriously, however, was guest judge Donny Osmond, who passed critique in such a way that I believe he thought he was on The Voice. And by that I mean he knew that it wasn’t as important as X Factor but liked to think it was. Hopefully next week’s guest judge won’t be a earnest.

Apart from Donny’s sincerity, only one thing annoyed me about Your Face Sounds Familiar: the appearance of ‘#Randomiser’ on the screen. Seriously, when will ITV learn that Twitter users do not need to be told which hashtags to use? People were taking to Twitter to voice their opinions and, judging from their harsh summaries, #Rubbish, #WorstShowEver and #MightPutInItToWinItOnInstead would have been more apt than a tag about a (let’s face it) unimpressive selection device!

To the performers now, though, and we were treated to a splendid plethora of stars to impersonate legends such as Springfield, Turner and Cash. There wasn’t one performance which I didn’t enjoy – I  thought Alexander Armstrong was excellent as the aforementioned Johnny Cash, although I was surprised that he agreed to take part (then again, he used to regularly appear as a naked vet in his Channel 4 sketch show, so he was likely unfazed by the potential embarrassment of Your Face Sounds Familiar). I also thought EastEnders and The Spa’s resident Bergita, Cheryl Fergison, delivered a lovely performance and, while she resembled Edna Turnblad more than Dusty Springfield, she brought a touch of class to the proceedings. My favourite performance of the night by far, though, was Bobby Davro as Tom Jones. The impression was spot on and he even looked a little like him! I just thought it was so funny.

So, unlike many I did enjoy Your Face Sounds Familiar (or, as my dad thought it was called, Your Face Rings a Bell). If there’s one thing I would change, though (apart from the irritating #Randomiser) it would be the voting system. People just aren’t likely to be picking their phones up in their droves, are they? No one’s getting booted out and, although the charities are all very worthy of the money, it doesn’t mean anything to the show, does it? We’re seeing the same celebrities week in, week out (albeit as different people) so it might mean that their charity becomes £10,000 better off but it’s not going to affect the following week’s line-up. So maybe either the phone vote/charity donation system should have been scrapped, allowing us to see different celebrities each week, or the performer with the most votes should have joined a new line-up the following Saturday, meaning that there would actually be some weight to the ‘competition’. Actually, on second thoughts, perhaps that was the original plan but the producers couldn’t find enough willing celebrities to fill six weeks…

Your Face Sounds Familiar will be on Saturdays at 7:30pm on ITV

What did you think of Your Face Sounds Familiar? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Feel free to comment below or tweet me – @UKTVReviewer.

You can also see my recommendations for the coming week’s TV on this blog, published every Saturday at midnight.

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