Deputy Captain Blackbeard has got stars in his eyes. He’s spent a few days on board cruise ship Thomson Dream, taking a backstage look at Sky1’s new reality talent contest, Showboaters. Did he catch the judges’ eyes? Read on to find out.
Can there really be any better jobs than singing and dancing your way around the world? Well Sky1 seems to think not, and it has launched Showboaters, a reality competition with the aim of nurturing new cruise ship entertainment.
The show was recorded on board Thomson Dream while the ship was in the Caribbean earlier this year. I’ve just been to the ship in the Med to meet the team behind the show and to discover if I’ve got what it takes to be a cruise ship entertainer. I don’t think I’ll be giving up the day job – but I would happily spend more time on the ship.
With only one full day aboard, it wasn’t encouraging to hear from the (real) ship’s Captain first thing in the morning that we were likely to be facing a force 8 gale later that day. Though he did at least deliver the news in scatological terms which made everyone smile but can’t be repeated here! Thankfully, the weather remained reasonably calm.
The good Captain Greybeard, already an avid Showboaters viewer, pointed out after the first episode that viewers saw none of the audition process by which the final 10 contestants had been selected. I discovered there had been an extensive series of try-outs which was all filmed but was cut from the show prior to transmission. Overseen by the fearsome Mollie Daley, Creative Director for Peel Entertainment Group, which provides all the performers on board the Thomson cruise fleet, they may one day appear on DVD
“I would have liked to have seen a little bit of the auditions to start the show,” said Mollie. “They were fascinating because we got a lot of interesting characters. There was a guy that came along in a beautiful dress and did a Shirley Bassey number, but I had to tell him we don’t do shows with boys who wear dresses.”
All wannabe contestants were subjected to a series of gruelling tasks and questions.”We don’t just make singers sing 16 bars of a song. We are known in the industry for our full-on auditions,” said Mollie.
Cruise Director and fellow judge Stephen Guy added: “They weren’t trying to be the headline act, they were amateurs there to win a place on a show team.”
The first episode introduced us to the characters. The second, which aired this week, focused on the performances and saw the first two performers packing their bags to fly home.
Now only eight remain and over the next few weeks we will see them learn and improve. The ones who don’t will also be leaving the ship. “They were with us for such a short space of time for the recordings, six weeks. But each week you could see some of them come on leaps and bounds,” said Stephen.
One thing I quickly learned was that the job of a show-team member is intense. We were joined by the resident experts and four mentors for the show; Nick, Marc, Karen and Samantha, who viewers will see more of during the next few weeks. While the show was filming they were also carrying out their regular performing duties on board, and as the series reached its climax and the contestants were whittled down to the final four they mentored each one individually.
They were on hand to teach me a little bit about what it takes day in day out at sea. It was a relief to discover I didn’t have to sing and dance my way across the ship, but they took me through some of the vocal warm-ups and games they play before performing each night to loosen up and relax aboard the Dream.
And they allowed me to showcase some of the more sparkly parts of their wardrobe, including the rather patriotic number above.
Even in that get-up, I couldn’t get an answer to the big question. I had made it my mission to discover the identity of the eventual winner, but that remains a closely-guarded secret which will be revealed only in episode eight. Whoever it is, they are now in rehearsal, ready to return to Thomson Dream and the Caribbean from November as a full member of the entertainment team.
After my brief time on board this week, I’m hoping to get the chance to return and see how well they fit in.