Talent shows are big business in television but Tina Arena, who judged on TEN’s Young Talent Time earlier this year, believes that bigger isn’t always better, especially when there are kids involved.
While the the show began well as part of TEN’s ‘Super Sunday’ line-up,YTT was eventually moved to Friday nights. Despite encouraging reviews for host Rob Mills and the junior talent, some questioned whether the show’s nostalgic format could compete against the new breed of Reality / Talent shows.
But a forthright Arena remains a true believer in the format.
“From a talent perspective it was really great all round and I hope it can continue to build on what I think are pretty good values. I love the fact that there’s a great deal of humility on it which you don’t see much on TV anymore, ” Arena recently told TV Tonight.
“But why have we become so incredibly greedy as viewers? That’s a question that I ask myself.
“Do you need to be smacked every five seconds with some new trick? I don’t get it. Then again I’m a different demographic. I’m a different age.”
Unlike Australia’s Got Talent, The Voice, and Australian Idol, all driven by elimination dramas and audience voting, YTT stayed true to its 1970s format with purely judges voting. But did that leave it looking too old-fashioned with viewers weaned on building the drama?
“I don’t think every show needs to follow that format. I think there’s a danger in that and I think YTT should probably steer clear of all of that. Stick with the trademark and stick with just making good quality TV as opposed to bringing out bells and whistles every five minutes to try and keep up with the Joneses? Who cares?” Arena insists.
“But of course, everybody feels they have to keep up with the Joneses perpetually, which is their downfall as far as I’m concerned.
“The question I pose is does everything have to be so bloody immense? What happened to just watching people grow and evolve? Just sitting down and enjoying TV … that’s sort of the way I look at it.”
Arena’s return to the show, as a YTT discovery, certainly gave the rebooted show some star power and acknowledgment of the debt she owes to original host Johnny Young.
“It would have been really stupid of me to not appreciate where I’ve come from. That show was extraordinary grounding and an extraordinary apprenticeship and I’m sorry, those apprenticeships do not exist anymore,” she says.
“We’re dealing with a different beast today. It’s a celebrity beast and it’s a very dangerous one. When people wake up to that hopefully we can review and maybe do things a little differently. I look forward to that.”
Despite ending their run in early May, the YTT team has just finished a 14-show tour of the country, performing to family audiences. While the ratings may not have delivered bumper figures, the cast still draws a big crowd at public appearances.
The bigger question now is where to from here and whether Arena would return for a second season, given she still has an active music career and a home in France.
TEN is understood to have been considering other models for the show to continue in some form, but is yet to make any announcements.
“We haven’t had any discussions. None of us have reconvened,” Arena recently said. “Obviously the network has a lot of things they would be going through.
“I wish it the best. I believe in it. (YTT‘s format) was ahead of its time and again I will say that I think the beautiful, human, and humility factor is something that I can’t put a price on.
“And it’s not a bought franchise that costs millions of dollars. It’s Australian, it’s unique and hopefully it allows children to be children. That’s what’s really important.”