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Springer’s Eternal Hope

by | 28th, September 2005

‘ALEXIE Sayle used to do a routine where he’d come on stage and scream “Whooh!” and hoot wildly. He was the American-style compere who’d whip the audience into a frenzy.

‘So when did you discover she liked sugar in her tea?’

Only he was in somewhere less glamorous than Bridlington, and the people had only come to see the show because it was a) cheap, b) raining and c) with a average age in the low 70s, they were happy to be anywhere so long as they were breathing.

Jerry Springer should have been made to see this act before he transferred his freak show to Blighty.

British audiences do not respond well to goading. They will clap along as one in a never changing beat when invited to and wave little flags whenever Vera Lynn sings but anything more is showy and painful.

The only time a British TV crowd have ever gone truly potty was on the Price Is Right. Host Leslie Crowther would invite Linda from Bromsgrove to “Come on down!”, and upon hearing the words the lucky one would alter from being a retiring, reserved mum-of-two to an arm-waving loon desperate for her chance to guess the price of a blue china leopard.

So British people can do wild enthusiasm, although the look of on the faces of The Price Is Right contestants suggested the pre-show preparation involved lots of drinking and a brainwashing of the type given to Japanese kamikaze pilots.

But Springer, who thrives on his on-stage guests and audience members being nosier and brasher, believed he could make it happen with his charm alone. As he told the Radio Times when his British-based show was set to debut on our screens: ‘Your talk shows are like ours were 10 years ago. They plod along – it could be radio.”

Springer – or “Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!” – to give him his dues, was going to shake things up.

So Springer came to ITV, replacing Trisha Goddard, who’d taken her TV mission to make women cry on air and seek therapy and counselling to Five. And the import was thrashing the local talent on the ratings chart with five viewers to every one of hers.

But since more would stare at the old BBC Test Card then tune into Five, these figures should not be give too much credence.

And the Springer show bears it out. The British audiences will not be seduced. Sure a huge woman appeared before us and took off her her top to show off her huge naked chest, but the hype that she wanted to go against her husband’s wishes and sleep with men she met over the internet was soon rubbished. The pair were rendered almost mute by the cameras and when asked about her sensational plans she said she’d never sleep with strangers.

Then there was the girl who didn’t know whether to trust her useless pot-head lover. But Springer was discovering that this wasn’t America and rather than kicking him to the kerb, as is the American way, or pumping him full of lead, as is another American way, she’d have long hard think about marrying him.

The audience didn’t jump and down like gibbons at feeding time, but stayed seated and looked sympathetic and bored.

Jerry talked to the crowd and they politely listened. He talked some more, and not wishing to interrupt his flow by shouting out, they listened some more. They paid attention in silence, listening attentively. It was as if they feared they were going to be tested on what he’d said.

Springer looked a little exasperated. He said he’d sit in the audience because one of his other guests, who had punched once her mother, was so terrifying.

Springer sat in the audience searching for something to say. And perhaps even wondering if he should bother to come on down…’



Posted: 28th, September 2005 | In: Celebrities Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink