New talent show...Walk the Line

Sunday:Walk the Line; (ITV, 8pm)

Craig David, Alesha Dixon, Maya Jama, Dawn French and Gary Barlow
Craig David, Alesha Dixon, Maya Jama, Dawn French and Gary Barlow

Earlier this year, ITV announced that it had no plans to bring The X Factor back – the last full series of the singing contest aired in 2018, with two spin-offs, The X Factor: Celebrity and The X Factor: The Band following in 2019.

However, anyone who thought that was a sign that Simon Cowell was starting to lose his hold over the viewers and schedules can think again. Not only is Britain’s Got Talent set to return in 2022 after a pandemic-related absence, but he’s now bringing us another new talent show format, Walk the Line, which is showing across six consecutive evenings.

It was initially reported that the new show would also mark his return to TV judging after taking a break last year, but he has decided to step down, saying he wants to “focus on his role as creator and producer” instead.

However, he has found plenty of familiar faces to take his place on the panel, including Gary Barlow, who should know the ropes following his own stint on The X Factor. The Take That singer-songwriter says: “When Simon calls it’s usually with something fairly extraordinary. I’m so excited to be involved in a brand new TV show, and of course my favourite part of Walk the Line is discovering new talent.”

He’ll be joined by someone else who is used to work with Cowell, pop star-turned-Britain’s Got Talent judge Alesha Dixon.

Chart star Craig David has also been recruited, and the panel is rounded out by Dawn French, who can barely contain herself. She says: “I’m far too excited to be part of this show, – I’ve decided to wear double knickers at all times…”

Meanwhile, Maya Jama is taking on the presenting duties, and she’s also bursting with enthusiasm: “This has been a childhood dream of mine. I remember watching shows created by Simon when I was younger, and to be given the opportunity to host one myself… it has definitely been a pinch me moment. Expect some first class entertainment and truly incredible singing talent. Walk The Line has been unlike anything I’ve worked on before and I hope everyone has as much fun watching it as we are making it.”

But other than the involvement of Simon, just why are the stars so excited about Walk the Line? Well, it could be down to the format.

The series gives one music act win a life changing prize pot of £500,000. The acts – be they soloists, duos or bands – will take to the stage to perform for the nation and the judges. So far, so standard for a talent show, but there’s a twist. The winner of tonight’s opening episode will be given the chance to either walk away with £10,000 or ‘walk the line’ and compete against four new challengers tomorrow, running the risk that they could lose everything.

Judge Craig says: “I’m really vibed by the quality of the contestants I’ve seen so far and love that they have the chance to bet on themselves every step of the way. Can’t wait to get started and see who’s gonna take the money or take a leap of faith and walk the line.”

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