X Factor Talent Queen Heads For The US - A Nation Prepares To Mourn!
Mark Seddon is the former United Nations Correspondent and New York Bureau Chief for Al-Jazeera English TV. He reported from eighteen countries during that time, including North Korea, China, Haiti, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has interviewed, amongst others, Ban Ki-Moon, Lech Walesa, Tony Blair, Hans Blix, Michael Foot, Mia Farrow, and George Clooney. In a journalistic career spanning over twenty years, he has been Editor of Tribune and an elected member of the UK Labour Party's National Executive Committee. He has written for most British newspapers and many magazines, including The Guardian, The Independent, The Daily Mail, The Times, The Spectator, New Statesman, Private Eye, British Journalism Review and Country Life Magazine. For a number of years he was a Diarist at the London Evening Standard, and has also reported for, amongst others, the BBC and Sky TV. He lives in Buckingham, England.
“Will she, or won’t she?” Here is a question that has dominated the tabloid newspapers in Britain these past few weeks, as Cheryl Cole, a presenter of the ‘X Factor’ talent show and formerly of girl band, ‘Girls Aloud’, decides whether to leave the show and seek her fortune in the United States. She has already made a small fortune here!
If she does depart these shores, it will be because the brains behind Britain’s most popular TV show, her fellow presenter, Simon Cowell, has persuaded her that the “America has got talent” show is her next logical step. If she does, she will also follow in the footsteps of another Brit, Piers Morgan, who has just stepped across the pond – and into the venerable shoes of Larry King over at CNN.
And if she does, I will not watch the ‘X Factor’, when it returns to our screens, as the Swallows depart, next autumn.
As Cheryl Cole and her fellow judges presided over the final “X Factor”, last weekend, some twenty million Britons tuned in to watch the show. Translated that is a quarter of the population of this small island, and is remarkable for many reasons – not least because all of the naysayers had long ago written off the collective national experience of switching on to a show in their millions. It happens because “X Factor” is live, and because in these dark and depressing times, the Saturday show, at peak time, is an exercise in escapism par excellence. I guess our experience is a common one. We all gather on the sofa, fire burning in the grate – and switch on.
Does “X Factor” show case original talent? Well, yes in a way. Does it encourage original music and original musicians? No, not really. There is something altogether predictable about the line up of boys bands and others, all singing from song sheets that are not their own. But, hey! Who wants to be an old misery! The punters love the show – and they, like me – love Cheryl Cole.
Not that I have met her of course, or even seen her from a distance. I love Cheryl though because she is incredibly attractive, graceful and clearly lacks side. I also love Cheryl because she comes from South Shields, a working class town in the North East of England, which was also once home to my grandparents. In fact Cheryl hails from what we here in Britain call a “very ordinary background”. Her family live in a council house, and Cheryl has been known to react when others have referred disparagingly to her humble background. And since she cannot do any wrong in my eyes, I quite understand.
Her home town of South Shields must be incredibly proud of her. Once upon a time most people there worked in the Wearside shipyards, or at Westoe Colliery, whose huge headgear I still remember as a child. South Shields has also been home to one of Britain’s first immigrant communities – the descendants of Yemeni and Somali sailors who first settled in the town two or three hundred years ago.
People who live in South Shields and the other North East towns the cluster along the coast are known throughout the World as ‘Geordies’. Warm, friendly, their accent is deemed the most trustworthy of any English accent according to a variety of market surveys, which may explain why we hear the Geordie accent in more and more advertisements. Cheryl Cole is as Geordie as they come, which for all of the reasons I have mentioned should immediately recommend herself to an American audience.
Except that I suspect many Americans will simply not be able to comprehend much of what she has to say at all. This you see, is a difficult accent for foreigners to understand Two earlier Geordie missionaries to America, comedians Ant & Dec couldn’t appear without strap line translations. Which may of course be a fate that awaits our Cheryl?
This cannot be allowed to happen! The fragrant Cheryl must remain here! I feel a campaign coming on. And if she allows herself to be persuaded into taking elocution lessons, this would be the ultimate betrayal.