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Any Dream Will Do

Any Dream Will Do is, of course, one of the many crimes committed by Andrew Lloyd Webber. He must be raking it in, you might think, and you’d be right, for not only does he judge the auditions, he also has the temerity to sit overseeing affairs throughout the entire show like a gaunt old vampire.

More TV bemusement from Probic Vent’s kin.

Any Dream Will Do is one of those shows that carries a horrible fascination. The format is similar to last year’s How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?, except, this time, the contestants are men (well, boys, to be accurate). They’re involved in a slightly freakish battle to play the musical’s lead part – or ‘be Joseph’ as host Graham Norton has it – in a new version of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

This is, of course, one of the many crimes committed by Andrew Lloyd Webber. He must be raking it in, you might think, and you’d be right, for not only does he judge the auditions, he also has the temerity to sit overseeing affairs throughout the entire show like a gaunt old vampire.

The analogy becomes even more fitting when you examine the nature of the show. For one thing, it seems to have been deliberately constructed to play to Lloyd Webber’s sense of self-importance. Graham Norton referring to him as ‘his lordship’ or pointing out that Lloyd Webber is ‘lording it’ is fairly obvious grist to the mill. (As an aside, why do presenters still feel the need to make puns, given that they’re almost universally derided?)

But then we have to wonder why Lloyd Webber is sat apart from all the other judges on a throne-like seat, looking studiously bored at proceedings.

To further compound matters, not only are the young actors made to physically strip to the waist in order to perform (singing) for Lloyd Webber halfway through last week’s show, but they’re a suspiciously young, nubile and attractive bunch. In fact, they’re exactly the sort of lads who would delight any carnivorous old queen who may happen to be watching (naming no names, and clearly I’m not talking about Lloyd Webber, as he’s married with children).

For extra perviness, the scene where the fellers perform half-naked is performed not only in front of Lloyd Webber, but also their own mothers. Why, for God’s sake? The implied reason is to give the contestants a small dose of the kind of nerves they’ll face whilst performing on-stage. The real reason is that someone’s just decided it would be amusingly degrading, like much of the program.

There’s truly a sense that almost anything can happen in Any Dream Will Do. It wouldn’t come as much of a surprise if Graham Norton suddenly announced a huge orgy, featuring all the contestants, judges and maybe willing members of the audience.

Lloyd Webber would oversee the whole thing from his cobweb-strewn chair, of course, his face a mask-like visage of studied boredom and indifference as he hums a cloying tune to accompany proceedings. The fact that the show’s before the watershed is irrelevant, too; this is Lloyd Webber’s show, and he could buy the BBC if he wanted. Anyway, let him have his fun. He did write Jesus Christ Superstar.

Noel Brown