FEATURE STARS IN THEIR EYES
Love it or hate it. it is difficult to ignore the series that elevates
karaoke kings to television studio celebs. Stars In Their Eyes is back, and Glasgow’s very own Marc
Almond is ready to face the music. He speaks to Fiona Shepherd.
hirley Bassey had it. as did Nat ‘King‘ Cole and Bobby Darin. George Michael had it. but he lost out. Patsy Cline was wonderful. Marti Pellow was fairly convincing but Alice Cooper. Kate Bush and Right Said Fred’s Richard Fairbrass were hopeless. wasted opportunities. As for Shakespeare‘s Sister. the less said the better.
Stars In Their Ifyes has been a national institution since its first series in 1990. The light entertainment show with audience and public voting for the best impression of a singing sensation is like an organised. talented. sober karaoke with added wardrobe department. Except that it’s a good deal more unreal than your average inebriated night in the pub. The Word thought it was taking television entertainment to an all-new innovative plane by featuring punters eating maggots or sticking condoms up their noses. but Stars In Their Iz'yes effortlessly taps into the post-pub notion that anyone with a few beers in them and a microphone and a stage can delude himself that he’s a star. Except that it’s a pre-pub show. These people are sober. Many of them are serious.
lan Thorpe. 29. Wakefield-born and resident in Glasgow for nearly seven years. is one of those people who decided it wouldn’t be a bad idea to take his karaoke impulses one step further. He is to appear on the show as Marc Almond — post Soft Cell. post~eyeliner and bondage mode.
“‘Tonight Matthew. I‘m going to be . . . Marc Almond!" — I’ve got that practically off to a T!’ says Ian enthusiastically. ‘l‘m just going to go for it. People won’t know what’s hit them. When I finish the track I’m going to exude the fact that [can’t believe I’ve done this. People watching it want to know you‘ve enjoyed it.‘
Prior to the auditioning process. Ian’s letter of
acknowledgement informed him that of the 76,000 telephone inquiries and 36.000 requests for application forms. 12.000 people went on to submit a tape of them crooning their chosen number. ‘You are one in 12.000!’ enthuses the letter. Thorpe then became one in several hundred who went on to a first audition. one in
18 The List 8~21 Mar 1996
90 who made it to the second audition and now he’s one of ()0 contestants on the current series.
‘I couldn't believe it when they told me. I got a rush right through my body and had to sit down.’ he says. ‘lfl didn‘t laugh. I was going to
cry. It‘s quite a small thing when you think of
what happens in your life. but it‘s nice because it‘s an appreciation of the fact that you can do
‘Some people are only doing artists because they look like them or can sing like them. I’m doing Marc Almond because I love this artist.
I know him inside out.’
something different. It's like a wee mark next to your name. It‘s the type of thing people will remember for a while. and I‘m such an exhibitionist when it comes down to it.’ Exhibitionist tendencies or not. Stars In Their Iz‘yes is a tad more glamorous than Wakefield Metropolitan Wind Orchestra which provided Ian's first taste of performance. School shows and orchestras contributed to his love of singing
Star struck: Ian Thorpe is signed up by his idol Marc Almond and dancing. and since moving to Glasgow. where he is a graphic designer for Glasgow Museums. he has been a member of the West lind Theatre (‘ompany (all of which will most probably be reiterated on the short film which cheesily introduces each contestant).
[Tnlike many Stars In Their Iz'yes contestants. Ian doesn‘t see the show as a viable bid for future stardom (although he certainly won’t look a gift horse in the mouth. no sirrce). Anyway. there have been other perks already — such as a private audience with Marc Almond himself.
‘He was really friendly. warm and encouraging. He kept on holding my hand.‘ says
lan. who has chosen to sing ‘Jacky' because of
its punchincss and playful drama. ‘Some people are only doing artists because they look like them or can sing like them. I'm doing this artist because I love this artist. I know him inside out. I've got everything he‘s ever done. I wanted to do him as he is now because so many people see him as "Tainted Love” and he's so much more than that.’
The final costume fitting has taken place. his routine has been choreographed and provided
lan doesn‘t burst with nervous energy beforehand. all that remains is practise (‘remember phrasing”. urges the show’s
correspondence). recording and broadcast. In the whirl of preparation. he still holds to what he sees as the essence of Stars In Their lives and its continued success.
‘lt's all about enjoying yourself.‘ he says. ‘They don‘t just want somebody who can sing and dance brilliantly. because if you can do that you don't need the show. you can do that anywhere. They want to get a whole range of people. different backgrounds — quiet. timid. enthusiastic — because they‘re making a show about people. so they want a whole collection of artists as well.‘
So who will be this week‘s Stars In Their lives winner'.’ Will it be Lisa Loeb. Toyah. Steve Harley. Mario Lanza — or will it be Marc Almond'.’ Audience. cast your votes now.
Ian Thorpe will appear on Stars In Their lives, I TV, on Saturday I 6 March.