Over The Rainbow: They Think It’s All Over – It Is Now

OVER THE RAINBOW: Saturday 22nd May, BBC1, 7pm ALERT ME

Over The Rainbow warbles towards its conclusion this Saturday when the public decides which contestant deserves to seize the coveted prize of playing Dorothy in the West End.

Whittled down to the final three out of a starting eleven, fans are in for a nail-biting finish with two thin brunettes dominating the fixture. Will it be Danielle, Sophie or Lauren? Which dog will be crowned Toto? Will they be able to impress Andrew Lloyd’s Bank and Chardonnay Church? Who even gives a s***?

Quite how the BBC has gotten away with these hour-long adverts for Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals will leave many feeling stunned. Considering Over The Rainbow’s ultimate achievement is to act as a PR exercise for its future production, it is extraordinarily cynical of the Beeb to make air time available to promote “the Lord’sâ€? current monstrosity Love Never Dies.

In a completely arbitrary scene last week Sierra Boggess – the leading lady in Love Never Dies – performed a song in its entirety to huge applause. The justification for her inclusion seems to have been a blink-and-you-miss-it clip where she deploys a morale building exercise to boost the contenders’ confidences. So in exchange for a minute long snippet that reveals crucial advice such as “you’ll get used to the [rigorous] scheduleâ€? of the theatre, the Beeb, in return, get almost four minutes of prime time ad-space for the Lord.

The show also suffers from being leaden with dialogue riffing off the title of the show. Graham Norton – who is plied with quotes like a rape victim is administered GHB – quips: “There may be no place like home but no-one wants to go there tonightâ€?. This is probably because they risk catching Over The Rainbow on the television and might decide their being “savedâ€? had more to do with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s bank account than their professional longevity in the theatre. Surely there are jobbing actors out there who would die for this role? They should unionise and topple the Webber empire immediately via the means of violent strikes (to his face).

Having begun in the latter stages of March, the show – like Andrew Lloyd Webber’s dubious ‘talents’ – has certainly run its course. Combining the structure of previous Webber formats such as Any Dream Will Do and various aspects of Crufts, it is a truly surreal and, at moments, deeply unsettling programme that many will be glad to be seen put to rest.