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Notts Got Talent!

On Sunday, January 30th, Refreshers Week culminated in a talent-stuffed extravaganza called Notts Got Talent. Staged in The Den in front of a crowd of over 150, the entire event was filmed and streamed live by NUTS, the university’s television station. Impact completes a double feature on the event, as we attempt to find out if Nottingham does indeed have talent!

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First and foremost, NUTS are to be roundly commended for the work they did on Sunday night. The results seemed to be a success, with many commending the presentation of the footage they viewed online. In addition, the crew were professional, polite and very hard-working throughout, really adding to the feel that this was a special night to take yourself down to The Den to get the feel of a “live studio audience”. The opening titles and video packages for each contender were well-prepared, well timed and generally impressive, and the relationship between the hosts, judges and production crew served to add to the overall fun of the evening.

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Douggie McMeekin (pictured right) and Matt Leventhall handled the hosting duties on the night. Though some may not have appreciated it, they handled the supremely difficult task of keeping a live audience entertained and catering to the requirements of live television admirably. Douggie served to be the pillar around whom much of the structure of the show was built, and Leventhall entertained the live crowd with his inventive improvisations. Hopefully they came across on the screen just as well as they did live, as their chemistry did a great deal to keep a potentially tricky night running smoothly. The judges managed the new challenges of live television- and having a camera right in their faces – with a poise and maturity that showed that absolutely everyone was determined to put on the best show possible. The added wrinkle for the final was that each judge was to grade the performance out of 10, with the four highest marked acts going through to a text only final.

The first auditionee of the week was also our first finalist. Tom was dubbed “the Susan Boyle of this competition”, yet this night, it seemed like he was more Paul Potts – in the best way possible. The uncertain audience gave him a respectful silence, before erupting in approval when he finished belting out his number. The judges overcame some slight technical problems with their mics to express their encouragement and award him 21 points. An average of 7 per judge, though immediately putting Tom in first (and only) place, set the par score for the evening.

Second up was shy singer Sarah, who impressed judges by belting out Impossible in her audition. This time, she chose The Scientist, and seemed to have real chemistry with both the audience and the judges, who received her performance very warmly. Her score of 24 catapulted her ahead, at least for now. Up next was Breakdance Society, the defending champions. High expectations were justified when their spontaneous looking choreography blended with some awe-inspiring body contortion. The judges were as impressed as the audience, bestowing 27 points, the night’s highest score on them.

The perky Liam Richard was next, and his spanish-guitar and improvised lyrics got the audience involved for the first time of the evening. Unfortunately, it seemed that the night got to him somewhat, and though everyone appreciated his originality and effort, his score of 20 reflected the high standards of the evening. Cinderella story Dado, an international student who had been in the UK for less than a week, charmed audiences, but didn’t prepare them for the confident performance that followed. In addition to bringing the house down, judge Simon Murphy exclaimed that he “owned the stage” before the panel gave him the leading score of 28 points.

Gypsy folk band Satsuma warmed themselves to the audience with their chilled out vibe and assertions that family were watching online. They impressed with their seamless medley of songs, ranging from Vengaboys to Pendulum. Their ability to play without words or music made them seem even more slick, and the judges gave them a big fat 28 points! 5 piece Shadow Phace, though playing one of their own tracks, struggled to win the crowd over with their style, which couldn’t have been helped by the fact that they came on straight after a break. They rallied, and the judges gave them 24 points.

Much comedy came from the night’s next act, Off The Cuff, the tandem of Matthew and Michael. Their determination to stick together to perform their blend of songs without music won the audience over in the end, with laughter, singing and applause all emanating from those in attendance. The entertainment factor seemed to resonate with the judges, who gave them a score of 21. Flair Soc got a similarly positive reaction from the crowd, who were impressed at the dynamic and incredibly difficult tricks their President, Dave Simpson attempted. Sadly, due to the staging and lights of the night, mistakes were made, and the judges could only award 18 points. Behind a packed bar though, they would doubtless have scored a perfect score!

Two of the hot favourites took two of the final two slots. Chilled out ukelele player Elias decided to blend his audition song with another, and the extreme silence during his performance couldn’t have been contrasted more from his applause, which was easily the largest of the night. After order had been restored (and it took a while) the judges agreed with the reaction of the crowd, and gave Elias three tens to make 30 points! The hotly anticipated Dance Society didn’t disappoint, with their exhaustively rehearsed material bowling over the audience. The judges agreed, and their hard work paid off with 28 points and a place in the top four acts. Sadly, Matt Rivers couldn’t make it three finalists in a row. The judges were hugely impressed at his improvement, which had seen him initially turned down at the auditions. Teamed with the terrific response from the audience, his final score of 24 was a vindication of his great strides.

Before we tell you how things turned out, there’s something Impact identified on the night, that might be a point of reflection for all talent shows. The acts that seemed to conjure up the largest reactions from the audience seemed to be those who used medleys rather than just one song. Whether this is an indictment of the attention span of the viewer, or whether or not it simply adds another facet of entertainment should be something to be considered. It seemed clear that the most popular acts were not just those that used mash-ups, medley’s and multiple songs, but those that did it the smoothest and the slickest. If nothing else, those that stuck to their guns and performed one song should take encouragement from the fact that it wasn’t them, it was us, and our tiny attention spans that meant they didn’t reach the final four.

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Each one of the final acts were assigned a number to text. A flurry of tapping, both live and, judging by the huge voting numbers, at home, ensued and at last, the results were in. The charming Dado finished in a very respectable fourth place, with the Dance Society placing third. The tension was palpable between two of the night’s best received acts, pre-show favourite Elias and Satsuma. By a rather large margin, Satsuma were crowned the winners, and seemed genuinely thrilled; this night meant something, and the crowd’s huge applause displayed that everyone was really into the occasion. With their trophy in hand, the winners belted out their medley again, and Notts had found it’s talent. A night that was wonderfully put together, which was huge fun live, and watched by many at home, Notts Got Talent – The Final was a huge success.

Adam Dawes

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