(11:15 a.m. EST) -- "It's a bit 'cruise ship'" is the most damning remark in the repertoire of X Factor judge Simon Cowell. The comment is reserved for wannabe crooners, mediocre cabaret singers and Celine Dion imitators.
Now, though, a TV production company is hoping to dismantle the stereotypes surrounding cruise ship entertainment with a new reality talent show commissioned by Sky1 -- the first of its kind for a U.K. audience.
Called "Show Boaters," the 20-part series is being made in early 2011 by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's production company, Fresh One Productions, for screening later in the year. Ten contestants who can sing, dance and act will compete against each other to win a spot as a cruise ship's star entertainer.
The cruise line and ship in question has yet to be announced, and as such, so has the prize -- although we'd hope at the very least that it would be a job onboard. Casting is currently taking place.
Full details of the format have yet to be announced, too, although the U.K.'s entertainment industry publication, The Stage
, hints that the contestants will be split into two teams to prepare for a weekly show, with a weekly elimination.
All the usual ingredients will be there: a resident choreographer, vocal coach and, most importantly, the ship's passengers as the voting audience.
Series producer Angela Norris told The Stage: "We are looking for a whole variety of people who could make it as an entertainer. They will live, breathe and sleep what it is like to be an entertainer on a cruise. It's a journey following the contestants and how they are whipped into shape, looking at whether or not their dreams are fulfilled."
The show should also produce an interesting insight into behind-the-scenes life onboard as the contestants will be given other duties, including serving in the restaurants. We wonder what the waiters will have to say about that!
Talk of cruise ship entertainment and TV almost always comes back to singer Jane McDonald, who found fame after the 1997 BBC reality show, The Cruise.
But 13 years ago, when McDonald found fame, entertainment at sea was much less sophisticated, and pre-X Factor, audiences less judgmental. According to some, contestants on Show Boaters may find it harder than they'd thought to sing, dance and use their personalities to entertain. Gary Williams
, a solo cruise ship entertainer for Royal Caribbean
and others, and star of the West End Show, The Rat Pack, told The Stage: "I have often wondered how some X Factor or Pop Idol winners would cope with having to perform their own 50-minute solo show to an international audience. On many luxury cruise lines the standard of entertainment is very high, and it sounds like this competition will prepare the hopefuls for the demands and realities of a long-term career on the stage."
We'll let you know as soon as the ship is announced, so stay tuned.
--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor