Britain’s Got Talent returned to our screens at the weekend and – according to the show’s website – it is “Bigger and better than ever!”.
Don’t get me wrong, BGT is great in the early weeks – when talent shows really excel in the entertainment stakes.
Talented performers are as rare as a Fernando Torres goal in the early stages of the show... and filling their places is a bombastic succession of misguided wannabes.
As tragic as their ultimate rejections may sometimes seem, these great British eccentrics, are a large part of what really makes the show tick.
But this is only half of the story... as every pantomime needs a villain.
That villain, a certain Mr Simon Cowell, was missing on Saturday’s opening show, and will not return until the final week.
The dark lord of talent shows is busy in America making a US version of his other ITV hit, The X Factor.
But his own personal ambitions are to the detriment of the very show he created.
His absence left a big void in Saturday’s show, and that will only continue to be felt as the competition progresses.
The current judging panel just don’t have the same cutting wit, or turn of phrase.
Okay, David Hasslehoff brings a bit of Stars and Stripes razzmatazz with him.
But his overbearing sense of positivity, and lack of actual criticism of the acts, just doesn’t transmit with the British viewer.
The other new boy, Michael McIntyre, is a very good stand-up comic, but he seems to be just too nice to say anything bad about any of the contestants.
While Amanda Holden gets too caught up in the emotion of the moment to offer anything insightful.
It’s also worth noting that previous judge Piers Morgan is absent this year.
He is also concentrating on projects Stateside, as anchor of a CNN chatshow.
But whatever you think of him, his comments on BGT always packed a punch.
For what it’s worth – and it’s worth millions to him – Cowell has mastered the art of criticising others, without actually possessing any performing talent himself.
Watching people who can’t sing or dance, being criticised by someone else who can’t sing or dance either, has bizarrely become a TV match made in heaven.
But such are Cowell’s US commitments, that doubts remain whether he will even appear on this year’s British X Factor at all.
I think this would be a disaster for that show, if Saturday’s BGT minus Cowell is anything to go by.
While his home-grown shows may well take off in America, its quite possible that without his weight behind the shows over here, they may well be heading for oblivion. He’s simply irreplaceable to these shows.