No second coming for Superstar after two weeks of bad ratings for Andrew Lloyd Webber's new show
11:42 GMT, 27 July 2012
There’s little chance of Andrew Lloyd Webber using a TV show to find a leading man or lady again, it seems.
After two weeks of negativity from critics and disappointing ratings for Superstar, his TV search to find someone to play Jesus for a new national arena tour of his famous musical, ITV executives have decided it’s ‘highly unlikely’ that they’ll commission a follow-up series.
An ITV source admitted the cost of producing the expensive show outweighed the ratings it received, with most episodes attracting fewer than three million viewers.
Leading man: Ben Forster, centre, will play the leading role of Jesus in the first ever UK arena tour in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar alongside Melanie C (left) as Mary Magdalene
Bosses had hoped for at least five million to tune in on a regular basis during the X Factor-style summer series, which was hosted by Amanda Holden and featured Dawn French, Jason Donovan and Melanie Chisholm on the judging panel.
ITV’s director of television Peter Fincham has a strong professional relationship with ‘The Lord’ and still believes it was a coup to lure him from the BBC.
Bored: Andrew Lloyd Webber has previously said he is tired of talent shows searching for West End talent
Lloyd Webber’s previous series — How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria, Any Dream Will Do, I’d Do Anything and Over The Rainbow — were all Saturday night hits for the BBC.
The ITV insider says: ‘We love Andrew and believe Superstar was brilliantly carried out. But after four similar searches it looks like viewers’ interest in this sort of musical talent show has gone.
‘It’s summer so we never expected ratings anywhere near as big as The X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent. But fewer than three million people simply isn’t enough, given the big budget commitments involved in this sort of show.’
ITV’s decision is unlikely to be a major disappointment to Lord Lloyd-Webber, who had already tired of making talent shows searching for new West End stars. ‘I don’t really want to do one for another stage show,’ he told me earlier this year. He was talked into making Superstar because the winner would perform at large arenas such as the 02 in London, rather than theatres.
While he’s been criticised in some acting circles, there’s no doubt his work with reality TV has been hugely beneficial to the West End and musical theatre in general, making his classic shows accessible to a wider and younger audience.
Another source said ITV hoped to work with Lloyd Webber on different projects in the future. ‘We’re actively talking to him about other ideas. He said he loved working with ITV. And there was a loyal core of viewers who really enjoyed the show.’
Superstar judges Mel C and Jason Donovan became great pals during filming and hope to appear together on TV again.
had so much fun working together,’ Mel tells me. ‘I’ll definitely work
with Jason again. I really respect him and I’ve learnt a lot.’
Jason adds: ‘We’ll find a way. But for the moment I’m looking forward to spending some time with the family.’
Downton's next U.S. export
Rob James-Collier, pictured as Thomas in Downton Abbey, has sparked interest from Hollywood
Meanwhile, Downton’s Rob James-Collier, who plays gay footman Thomas, is the latest member of the cast to be tapped up by Hollywood.
Rob, 35, who played Liam Connor in Coronation Street for two years, is considering temporarily relocating to Los Angeles for auditions when filming on the third series wraps in four weeks’ time.
My US source says: ‘There’s a big demand for the stars of Downton and with his handsome looks Rob could work particularly well in movies here.’
Rob confirmed that there had been ‘overtures’ from several U.S. movie studios, but said he has yet to decide on his next role.
ITV will not decide to say yes to a fourth series of Downton Abbey until the third series starts in September.
this week cast members told me only Dame Maggie Smith is yet to commit
to more — the series is nominated for 16 Emmy Awards this year.
ITV source says: ‘We need to wait to see how it rates on its return,
but it’s a near certainty and key cast members have been told to keep
six months free in 2013 to shoot.’
But Elizabeth McGovern, who plays Lady Grantham, says of a rumoured film version: ‘It’s not happening as far as we are aware.’
Our soaking summer (until recently)
has caused financial headaches for producers of this series of Downton.
Delays filming key scenes have led to the production budget
Producer Liz Trubridge
says: ‘It’s been a bad summer to film. We had a picnic scene which we
had to pay for three times. Now it’s sunny we’re filming inside on a
stage in Ealing!’
Just when you thought TV talent shows couldn’t get weirder, along comes Top Dog Model — a new ITV2 series looking for the country’s best-looking dog.
And former X Factor finalist Stacey Solomon, who’s a big fan of pretty pooches, is one of the judges.
‘It’s completely about what they look like. I felt so mean I wanted to cry sometimes,’ she told me. Stacey, 22, who came third in the 2009 X Factor, has been in demand for TV roles recently, but after ‘pooch idol’ a return to music beckons.
‘I’ve recorded an album I hope to release by the end of the year,’ she says.
Coming to an end: The start of the real Olympic Games signals the end of TV spoof Twenty Twelve
The start of the Olympics tonight sadly heralds the end of Twenty Twelve, the brilliant BBC2 comedy spoofing the organisation of the London Games.
There had been speculation that producers would try to find a way for the series to continue — but the show’s leading man Hugh Bonneville has ruled that out.
‘It’s really sad that it’s over, but it wouldn’t feel right to carry on after the Olympics,’ the versatile actor, who also stars in Downton Abbey, tells me.
However, he adds: ‘I think it would only work as one last special.’ Fingers crossed!