Katherine Jenkins is “steppin’ out” and I’m stepping away from my television set

26 Nov

Ah it’s nearing Christmas…the time when the turkeys go to die and desperate acts hit our TV screens.

This year a little prematurely it seems, Katherine Jenkins will be adding her glamorous, vacant persona to living rooms across the land with the aid of her blonde locks and pretty dresses. Not one to take a back seat, I thought it’d be fun to email the quoted in the press release ITV’s own Controller of Entertainment John Kaye Cooper. As he was the person who commissioned the programme he’d better know that a large swathe of his potential audience will be switching off their sets.

My email:

Mr Kaye Cooper,

I am writing this short email to voice my dismay at presenting this programme on the rather feeble talents of Katherine Jenkins. Someone frequently presented as an opera singer but has never actually studied voice at conservatoire level or even performed in an opera house.
You were quoted by ITV’s press office:
‘Every year ITV1 are delighted to offer our viewers a wide range of music and entertainment specials. Last year we had Michael Buble, and Beyonce, and this year the 100th Royal Variety Performance, Rod Stewart’s Christmas, and also in December this glamorous special showcasing Katherine’s acclaimed dance skills and award winning vocal talent, with a highly popular line up of star guests – a musical treat not to be missed’
I will just make the point that she has won no awards or competitions (the usual way with classical/opera singers is to enter singing competitions such as The Ferrier Awards etc) all she has ever won is two Classical Brits which are conferred by the record execs making money on her very svelte and under-developed talent.
This country is full of wonderful opera singers that have spent the time to work hard at their craft and to pursue a career that is difficult and very competitive. Unfortunately Miss Jenkins and her ilk would not know any of that, as all she has to do is show up with a microphone and pretend to sing some sub standard rendition of Habanera. I can imagine ITV is desperate for viewing figures but presenting this dross is an insult to a lot of people who flock to opera performances around the country, from Aberdeen to Southampton.
I do not expect a response but I presume you don’t mind hearing the voice of one potential viewer that will keep their TV off on that evening.

Best

The response was the usual ‘We can’t all like the same things’

Thank you for your email – at least you have got it off your chest!
The world would be a funny old place if we all liked the same performers, the same type of music, the same type of TV programmes, which is why we do our best to ensure that we provide a broad range of music based specials across the year.
You criticise my description of Katherine Jenkins as ‘ award-winning’. The two Brit awards she has received at the Classic Brit Awards are voted upon by a cross- section of music producers, musicians, record industry executives, journalists from magazines like The Gramaphone, and listeners to Classic FM, depending on the award.
The programme Steppin’ Out with Katherine Jenkins, demonstrates her talents as a singer, but more importantly her recently honed skills as a dancer from her appearances in Dancing with the Stars in the USA – hence the title!
You mention the word opera in your email many times. I have looked at my quote and the press release several times, and we definitely don’t ever mention the word, indeed the programme doesn’t have any opera in the entire 75 mins. So, not unnaturally, I begin to wonder why you wrote to me in the first place or was it just to have a rant about Katherine.
As I said at the start, you have got it off your chest now, so I hope you are feeling better

John Kaye Cooper

To which I responded as follows:

Mr Kaye Cooper,

Thank you very much for using the usual simplistic logic to defend this vulgar entertainment genre. “We all like different things”. Of course that logic brings you to a dead end when it comes to judging how Bizet’s Carmen should be performed. When Miss Jenkins opens her mouth what is missing is half of the notes that the composer wrote, that is not a matter of opinion but fact. The fact the average person will not pick a vocal score of Carmen to compare doesn’t mean such crass misrepresentation of Bizet’s work should be allowed to go on unnoticed. Unfortunately he is not around any more to sue.
And I will bring to your attention that the Classic Brits have no connection to Gramophone Magazine, which has never reviewed her recordings as they are not classical releases (according to her label, which is how they escape proper scrutiny on their technical deficiencies). They also have their own awards in which Miss Jenkins has never been nominated.

And of course thank you very much for patronising me with your concluding statement. Also apologies for adding a g to your snappy title…Steppin’ it is.

All the best

It clearly is a waste of time opening such conversations but my annoyance got the better of me. I wonder how many fawning emails they’ll get about the ample talents of the popera talent on board this programme. Mind you the cause is not helped by Placido Domingo singing with JK during the recent Variety Performance. But we all know that opera is better left to the pros.
But at the very least this programme will be the quintessential unintentionally funny TV programme of the week. 

5 Responses to “Katherine Jenkins is “steppin’ out” and I’m stepping away from my television set”

  1. Mimi 2 December 2012 at 9:58 pm #

    The one thing that we have in the UK in spades is freedom of speech. I am watching the program as I write this and I also watch Beyonce and Michael Buble last year. I don’t find the program offensive, I had seen all the adverts and was surprised she danced but like you rightly pointed out she did dancing with the stars, so it was refreshing to see her dancing. I cannot say the program is exciting but to be honest i have a digital box and there is nothing else on. As a matter of interest to the man who wrote the original complaint, what would you like to see instead.

    To be honest this discussion can go on and on. After all there are many talented singers out there that do not get a look in. Music is all about, what the record producers think will make them money. Perhaps they are to blame

    • George aka OperaCreep 2 December 2012 at 11:58 pm #

      Indeed most record companies promoting bona fide classical talent tend to seem lost at sea. They’ve been borrowing the tactics of the pop/rock industry with results in confused products like Lang Lang and the latent pop adventures of Placido Domingo (the dreaded duets cd). What would be refreshing is a way to engage a wider audience but without dumbing down the content. I’d love to see a programme around lets say Stile Antico or Viktoria Mullova. Mediaeval polyphony is a glorious part of British music but very neglected by the media. Mullova has published an auto-biography which would make a great documentary. Can imagine if presented correctly the wider viewing public would find those two subjects intriguing. But unfortunately TV time is devoted to non-entities like Jenkins.

  2. Sandra Hamilton 2 December 2012 at 11:27 pm #

    You are a really rather nasty person, aren’t you?

    • George aka OperaCreep 4 December 2012 at 10:49 am #

      I do appreciate the sentiment, thanks for letting me know.

      • John Ellis 8 December 2012 at 10:26 am #

        I watched and thought it Good, however, putting it at the side of the rubbish the BBC. screen as music, It was fantastic. not one singer (using the word loosley)screeching thair heads off, miked up to hell ,with little or no tallent it was great, and the dancing, well she can’t hope to compare with Old MPs with two left feet and round soap stars can she.
        John Ellis

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