This year BGT viewers seem more disgruntled than normal. The initial response to the new season was to warmly welcome new judge Bruno Tonioli. By the time young Olivia Lynes auditioned, on 29 April, the mood was souring. Nobody disputes that Olivia sang beautifully, but viewers felt that when Amanda Holden pushed the golden buzzer, it was set up.
Essentially, in a filmed interlude, Amanda met Olivia before the show & invited her to sing for the judges. Amanda was forced to explain that she had never heard Olivia sing before the audition. Next viewers reacted to a clip of confetti being blasted towards Olivia’s face, while an onstage cameraman filmed. Then there is Noodles the animated cat!
The confetti clip could be explained. The audition was filmed in real time; the onstage cameraman simply filmed shots for slow-motion close ups to enhance the golden buzzer scene. Fair enough, but how do you explain the talking & singing cat? It was clearly a contrivance that involved collaboration from the judges. As the Daily Mail reported, one viewer asked: “Did the entire audience and the judges just applaud like seals at nothing in front of them?”
Again there is an answer, but this time the answer confirms that the audition was staged. Audience members revealed that the Cat was a screen projection, which was subsequently made to look like it was on stage for the TV broadcast. Moreover, the live audience was instructed to act as if the cat was on stage for the audition. The cat itself is not particularly impressive, I mean, it’s no dancing gorillas!
Not that Noodles the cat sang badly on his BGT audition. Far from it. My point is that as a 3D digital puppet it is not that impressive as a character; the look of it. The design was no doubt kept fairly simple as it is voiced in real time, which requires the cat to move in real time. This real-time motion is the most impressive technological achievement of Noodles’ audition, and the more complex the digital puppet, the more likely it is to glitch when responding in real time.
Besides the general sense that Noodles’ appearance on BGT 2023 was contrived, and the associated speculation on how it was pulled off technically, viewers responded in two further ways. Some viewers defended Noodles, found the interlude entertaining, and complimented Noodles’ singing. Other viewers attempted to work out who was voicing Noodles. This latter speculation gained impetus when it was revealed that, under the name Nouille, Noodles the virtual cat appeared on France Got Talent 2022. On FGT, a former contestant (Michael Dos Santos, FGT 2016) was eventually unveiled as the voice of Nouille. Nouille/Dos Santus is the first to audition on the following video (starts 1:40s). It might be the oddest performance of Hallelujah that I have ever seen.
A number of names have been put forward for the person voicing Noodles on BGT 2023. Since noodles sings Feeling Good (composed by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse, notably released by Nina Simone in 1965) which Michael Bublé covers, it has been suggested that it might be Bublé “trying to pull a fast one”. Another viewer commented: “So we’ve reached a new low!! A CGI cat with Adam Lambert’s voice!!” Meanwhile, a front runner has emerged. A fair number of people believe that noodles is voiced by Tom Ball, a contestant from BGT 2022.
What might have been a fun gag followed by a reveal of the person singing as Noodles the cat is ruined by the fact that it is a re-run of a gag that was pulled on France’s Got Talent. We know the storyline, even if we’re not sure who will be revealed. Whoever turns out to be the voice of the mystery cat, the timing of the broadcast of Noodles’ audition is unfortunate.
It was filmed in January, so the judges could not have predicted the audience reactions to BGT 2023. It is broadcast at a time when viewers are speaking out against the perceived “staginess” of the show. Viewers are feeling that they are being manipulated and that the show has too much fakery. Right now, it is as if the jokes just aren’t funny anymore. Let’s see how the next round of BGT goes.