Australia’s Amateur Hour/Got Talent 2012

There is no doubt that AGT didn’t attract the following it did last year, but even so last night’s Big Decider – the spectacular during which the winner is announced – was a very good show.

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And the winner:

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After illness forced him to leave chart-topping 90’s R&B group CDB in the 90’s, AGT was singer/songwriter Andrew’s last chance to try and resurrect his music dreams and the opportunity to share his catalogue of original songs with the nation. Tonight he proved victorious with a symbolic welcome back to the industry, topping the public vote and triumphing over Tasmanian country band, The Wolfe Brothers.

Andrew was overwhelmed by the result “It was just an amazing moment. This is all a dream… I feel amazing. It’s just such a beautiful way for it to come to an end and in a way it’s actually a new beginning.”

Andrew paid tribute to runners up The Wolfe Brothers saying, “I was so happy to be up there with those guys, I have much so respect for them. It’s real music as well, so for both of us to be up there together is incredible and such a positive achievement for original Australian music.”

UPDATE: On Andrew De Silva.

As a song writer, live performer and a session musician, Andrew De Silva is constantly busy. In the hard to penetrate local music industry De Silva’s vocal diversity is an in-demand asset that has seen him work with some of the biggest names of the Aus music landscape, across various genres and projects. This, along with his command of the guitar and bass guitar has served to cement De Silva’s reputation as an all-round musician. Whether it’s playing bass on stage for Guy Sebastian or providing vocals as part of the in-house band on Australia’s Got Talent, De Silva’s resume includes performance work across most areas of the entertainment industry. – 2011

See also his own website.

We have become bored with the talent shows, opines today’s Sydney Morning Herald. The Australian version of The Voice, having garnered almost constant publicity during its run, seems to have been the exception. Poor old AGT12 had hardly any publicity at all this year.

The talent show is in fact a venerable genre.

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That’s Terry Dear in 1956 on Channel 9 in the TV version of a long-running radio show, Australia’s Amateur Hour. Click on the image and you will see some remarkable footage of Channel 9 1956-7, with The Amateur Hour snippet at 4:35.

We liked our announcers posh and British-sounding in those days, even on commercial radio – though as the Channel Nine footage shows the late 50s represent a transition perhaps. What follows is a 1952 radio Amateur Hour featuring a guy who went on to become a legend in country music circles.

The program was very popular during the war years. During this time radio became an important form of communication and entertainment as people largely stayed at home and there were blackouts. Over time the show had three comperes: the last of these, George Alexander Dear (known as Terry) described the impact the show had during the war years:

When Sammy Dobbs, the great power-that-was at Lever Bros, started up Amateur Hour, he first got Harry Dearth to do it, and he was very good indeed. Then when he joined up, Dick Fair took over and carried it through the war years. That’s when the show got its tremendous popularity. People couldn’t go out; there were blackouts and no street lights and since everybody stayed at home, the radio was the best means of communication. Amateur Hour wasn’t just made in Sydney. It was broadcast from all over Australia. So if a listener heard Dick saying, ‘Good evening, this is Amateur Hour from Cairns in Queensland’, this was real glamour. It was also comforting: the show was still there and still going on, even when the Japs came into the war and people were afraid Australia might be invaded. Dick left he show in 1950, and that’s when I took over. When I did, we were at show number 423 or something like that, and when I finished ten years later we had done something like 930 shows. I was there the longest of the three of us.

The Amateur Hour audience was invited to ring in and vote on the best act. There was a switch board of 10-15 ‘girls’ supplied by Lever Brothers taking down votes. People could also write in. Sometimes people would phone in 50 or 60 votes from a pub for one act. The phone ‘girls’ judged by the background noise whether to accept the votes. Amateur Hour compere Terry Dear describes the tabulation system:

We had a switchboard of ten to fifteen girls supplied by Lever Brothers, taking down votes, or people could write in. There were many ways they could vote, and we sometimes had colossal totals. Sometimes people would ring with a huge number of votes for one act. We wouldn’t know how many people were putting them in, but if there was a lot of background noise, we could assume that they were in a pub. If they put in, say fifty-seven votes, we accepted them. The Amateur Hour organisation was very good, believe me.

The show kept a register as a theatre agent, and would provide performers from the show. Performers such as Bobby Limb, Donald Smith and Rolf Harris appeared on the show, and got work that way.

And Johnny O’Keefe, it appears.

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