I applied to be on BBC One’s new reality show and it was the worst day of my life


Tomorrow night a brand new reality show makes its debut on BBC One; the creation of waistcoat wearing legend Gary Barlow, Let It Shine is looking for five guys who will be put together to create a band that will star in a theatre production based on the career of Take That.

Presented by BBC staples Mel Giedroyc and Graham Norton, the show is a classic singing reality show with auditions leading to a live show with the odd famous acts performing with the hopefuls (Busted, Mel C, Olly Murs and more), and celebrity judges past their best (Martin Kemp, Dannii Minogue, Lulu, Amber Riley and Barlow himself). It’s the BBC’s rival to the recently departed The Voice, which also starts on Saturday on ITV.

But let’s rewind several months. It’s a warm Saturday morning in London, and there are dozens of individuals bumping into various inanimate objects due to the recent release of Pokemon Go in the UK. I was on a train to the west side of the city to audition to be a part of Let It Shine. It had all started off as a bit of a joke. Being involved with Surge Radio, I had always laughed on-air about my love for Take That and my appreciation of the man himself, Mr Gary Barlow. I can’t sing or dance; I was told to put myself forward for an audition ‘for a laugh’. It took some persuasion, but I decided to go with it, only in hindsight realising the fact I played the piano would probably aid me in my written application.

A few weeks after jokingly applying, I received an email inviting me to an audition in London, with stage one of the day consisting of singing for 90 seconds a capella, before performing another song a capella, one to backing music or with an instrument, and dancing in stage two. As soon as I stepped off the train into the warm early morning London sun, I realised this was a terrible, terrible idea, but I had gone far too far to back out now.

As it turns out, it was as horrible as I had feared. In fact, it was worse. Unsurprisingly I was knocked out in stage one, with neither the producers, the vocal coaches, or the other nine contestants I had to perform in front of appreciating my squeaky at best (awful at worst) attempt of Biffy Clyro’s ‘Many of Horror’. To say I was the worst there was an understatement, the fact I was made to perform last of ten to my Take That wannabes made the whole thing even more painful.

It was not the best way to have spent a Saturday morning in the middle of summer, but it shed an interesting insight into the reality of reality TV shows. Behind the glitz and the glamour of a primetime slot on Saturday night is months of hard work and effort from everyone involved. I had humiliated myself, and my dream of being Gary Barlow was coming to an end. But every cloud has a silver lining; I caught a Pikachu on the way home.

Let It Shine begins on BBC One tomorrow (7th January) at 7pm.


About Author

Politics student and head of all things musical at Surge Radio. Doesn't understand youth culture. Refers to himself in third person (he doesn't really).

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