David Ian has invested a fortune into the stage version of Grease. For the next run of the show he has invited members of the public to choose Sandy and Danny from 16 hopefuls who auditioned. It’s a big risk but it was fascinating on Saturday to watch how he and his fellow judges (and I somehow suspect that David has the veto) mitigated their risk.
Saturday was the Sandy semi-final where four hopefuls were whittled down to two. Two of the four Susan McFadden and Michelle Antrobus would make excellent Sandys. The other two wouldn’t. David Ian’s problem was that Alison has been very popular with the voting public. Twice Michelle has had to be saved by the judges and Alison has not required that support. On Saturday after the first performances it was clear that Vicki was going to struggle and previously she has been less popular with the public requiring saving on at least one occasion.
So sure enough to ensure the survival of the top two, the judges sent Vicki into the second round eliminating the popular but less suitable Alison despite Vicki clearly having produced the worst acting performance by a mile. This was done in the knowledge, I’m sure, that the public weren’t going to support Vicki.
There are other ways to affect the public vote. The BBC ran a celebrity singing talent show called Just the Two of Us earlier this year. The vote was seriously affected by the position of the couple in the running order. The results from the telephone vote were announced about a minute after the last couple had performed giving no time at all for fans to register their vote. Surprise surprise the last couple got eliminated more often than not.
Now shall we talk about the position on the ballot paper…