The Version Interview.... Graham Norton and Mel Giedroyc on BBC One's Let It Shine

Starring judges Gary Barlow, Dannii Minogue, Martin Kemp and guest judge Amber Riley, and presenters Graham Norton and Mel Giedroyc.

Over eight weeks of competition, starting at 7pm on Saturday 7 January on BBC One, Let It Shine will search for five talented boys to form a band and perform the songs of Take That, in a brand new show touring the UK from late 2017. The judges are looking for a band that exudes the charisma, showmanship and stage presence that Take That became so famous for

Why did you want to host Let It Shine?
Mel: The words ‘Take and ‘That’ were a pretty strong pull!

Graham: Gary really is a national treasure. Everyone loves Gary.

Mel: Sue and I interviewed him on Light Lunch back in 1998. He was absolutely brilliant. He played on the grand piano and I can remember been draped on the piano feeding him sushi. I always thought what a lovely guy he was and watching Gary singing and playing on the piano was obviously divine.

Graham: You always think to yourself how lovely he is.

Mel: Genuinely.

Graham. I never stay in touch with guests who come on my chat show, but Gary has always stayed in touch and I do really admire him.

Are you Take That fans?
Mel: Of course, but on the sly! I always thought I was a little bit too old to be fully immersed in Take That. For me it was the Human League and ABC.

Graham: Yes of course. Their tracks are clever, well-written songs. My favourite is Back For Good.

So tell us more about Let It Shine.
Graham: It’s the idea of five boys coming together as a band and they will be singing Take That songs. But we are not looking for a Take That tribute band. We are not looking for a Gary or Robbie.

Mel: It is five people who embody the spirit of Take That. It is not like the other shows we have had in the past, like the search for Maria and Jesus Christ Superstar. It is more conceptual.

Graham: What I really like about it is we are not looking for one person. We are looking for five elements that come together. You need cheeky energy, a killer voice, and great dance moves. Every boy band is made up of elements. Each boy band is different. And what is interesting is watching the boy bands morph into man bands. Look at Gary Barlow. Who knew that he would be the hot one?!

Is Gary going to be a mean judge?
Graham: Gary is inscrutable. He has got a very good poker face. I look at him and it is very hard to see what he is thinking. The talent is very good and even if they don’t go through, the judges are keen that the boys go away with some good advice. They want them to learn.

What are Dannii and Martin like as judges?
Mel: They seem to be settling in well. There is so much respect for Martin. They really do love him. And as for Dannii, she has been a judge on loads of shows. That girl knows her onions and what is great is she has performed on lots of shows too.

Is there great chemistry between the judges?
Mel: Yes. When you look at them, it’s a good, comforting, rousing feeling. They have a lot of experience and you know we are in safe hands.

Well, we are also in safe hands with you both. Have you worked with each other before?
Mel: Our paths have always crossed. We’ve both worked on Eurovision (but not on the same programme). I’ve actually worked for Graham. His TV Company produced a sketch show I did. I loved it.

Describe your on-screen partnership.
Mel: It feels really comfortable.

Graham: My favourite bits are when I am on stage with Mel as she really makes me laugh.

Mel: Vice versa.

Graham: But we aren’t together too much as Mel is backstage.

Mel: Yes at the beginning of the series there is a distinct world of the on-stage thing and backstage. I am the matron of the common room, which has got an amazing darts area, a little band area, chill out and gaming areas.

Is there any similarity between Let It Shine and the Andrew Lloyd Webber shows you hosted Graham?
Graham: The big difference with this show is that we are not casting a role, and that really changes the audition process. We are not looking for one thing - it is about the energy and vibe they are giving off. You are looking for five who will mesh and work together. I think it will be really interesting to see how someone who is a bit left of field actually will find a way to be in the final group.

Is personality important?
Graham: Yes, it is not just about vocal excellence.

Mel: They have to be on the road for 12 months, living, breathing and working together. And so they have to be quite special. It is about stamina as well.

Have you cried?
Mel: I have welled twice and brimmed three times. You get so invested. I have got to keep myself in check as otherwise it will be exhausting. There are a lot of boys hanging around backstage and it's my role to help them enjoy the process as it is pretty nerve-wracking for lots of them. A guy yesterday hadn’t even sung into a mic before. So there is a real range.

Graham: What is amazing for the boys is they are people who want to be in the industry. Normally if you go to an audition, they just go 'next'. There is no feedback at all. But the fact the four judges go into detail about what they did well and how they can improve is incredibly valuable. If you get the boot in life, you just get the boot. In this you get an experience.

It sounds like you are having lots of fun working together.
Mel: It’s brilliant. But it is all going by in a whirlwind!

Graham: There is something great about these sorts of shows when you meet the contestants and you get a real feel for their personalities as soon as they start to sing. I am really enjoying it so much.


Let It Shine, 7pm, Saturday, BBC One.