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News stars strut their stuff on stage

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 17 September 2010

From the studio to the stage, TV personalities came out in force last night to battle it out in NewsRoom's Got Talent. Krishnan Guru-Murthy describes his moment in the limelight.

News stars including Krishnan Guru-Murthy at Newsroom Got talent

You'll never watch News at Ten in quite the same way again.

Picture Mary Nightingale, if you will, soberly striding round the newsroom set - talking foreign policy, Westminster, dangerous wars overseas. Last night Ms Nightingale emerged resplendent in a skintight black PVC catsuit, star of the ITV News take on Charlies Angels at last night's Newsroom's Got Talent extravaganza.

The format - loosely (and I mean loosely) based on the Britain's Got Talent show - turned some of the country's leading journos into performers for a night, prancing round the stage acting out those rock god fantasies most people sensibly left behind in their teenage years.

Hosted by Ben Shepherd and Claudia Winkleman (who both turned out to be really rubbish at ad libbing..) - the show got off to a storming start with this programme's very own Four Play.

Sporting a lurid collection of costumes and bizzare wigs - the band got off to a decent enough start - with Krishnan Guru-Murthy's rendition of Back in the USSR. However things soon took a turn for the worse, as Channel 4's sometime Middle East correspondent Inigo Gilmore thundered on stage dressed as Elvis (definitely in his cheeseburger days). Let's just say singing in tune wasn't his strong point.

Fuelled, no doubt, by the free flowing champagne reception, the judges didn't hold back. But while Louis Spence and Arlene Philips at least managed to be civil, Capital Radio's Johnny Vaughn launched into an expletive laden diatribe which went on, and on - developing into a full blown slanging match with our Elvis lookalike.

With the tone for the night firmly set in the basement - there followed a completely baffling dance routine by three girls from CNN - word has it that network bosses in Atlanta had banned their original effort which took the rip out of new-hire Piers Morgan's takover at Larry King Live.

Still more bafflingly, it seemed to get a better reception from the judges than the Channel 4 effort. Surely some mistake? But the hits of the night - for the second year running - were our colleagues at ITV News - with not one, but two entries wowing the crowds. We've already mentioned Mary Nightingale's catsuit routine - which probably scored the highest points with most men in the audience. Their Footloose medley also starred an off-key Mark Austin and a pink tutu-clad Katie Derham, making a guest appearance from her new job at the Proms - marred only by the fact that her mic failed to work. Band number two - and the winning number - was the theme tune from Glee, including Steve Scott on vocals and ITN's own chief executive at the keyboard.

The BBC team, featuring their much vaunted secret weapon Jeremy Vine, were another eighties throwback, all padded shoulders and lepoard-print fake fur - with a news-themed rendition of 'Don't You Want Me Baby'. Lots of flailing arm action, precious little tune.

The close runner up was a feisty foursome from the American network NBC - with an homage to New York - but otherwise the whole effort was less of a Susan Boyle moment, and more like a very drunken Karaoke night that possibly seemed a good idea at the time.

As for the judging panel - Johnny Vaughn remained incoherently insulting throughout - until finally someone managed to fade down his mic. Expletives deleted.

Finally, the last chocolate brownies eaten, the charity silent auction over (anyone for a week on a private island in the Seychelles, butler included? Anyone?) - a special guest emerged to end the evening on a high note, and one that was properly in tune - yes, it was 90's pop sensation - the 'One and Only' Chesney Hawkes - who brought the newsroom wannabes on stage behind him to play alongside his hit number.

Whatever the dubious nature of the rest of the 'talent' on show - at least everyone had plenty of fun. And it was a resounding success for the charities - Sane, Leonard Cheshire Disability and the Helen and Douglas Homes, which will share in the tens of thousands of pounds raised during the course of the night.

But the best advice to those all-singing, all-dancing news teams? Probably best to stick to the day job. 

The "TV tarts" taking to the stage
Newsroom's got Talent pushed journalists out of their comfort zone, writes Krishnan Guru-Murthy

For a bunch of TV tarts well used to performing we were all amazingly nervous and well out of our comfort zones. The ITV presenters were furiously practising their song and dance act, the BBC were wandering around slightly sheepishly asking why we were all taking it so seriously and C4 News stuck to our studiedly cool "Nothing fazes us" facade while quietly dying with fright inside.

The night had been set up as a battle of the bands : Channel 4 News against the Mark Austin's coalition of ITN staff and (suspiciously professional looking) "guests". The ITV News song and dance act had also been rehearsing relentlessly in the studios downstairs and were clearly taking it very seriously.

For our part we had rehearsed four times with a simple two song set: I would come on and sing "Back in the USSR" before Inigo Gilmore came on as Elvis to sing "The Wonder of You". It was always at risk of being a bit of a car crash, but our main aim was to do it clean, reasonably tight and be able to walk away with our heads held high.

In the end it was a fantastic laugh and amazing to play a venue like the O2 with professional sound engineers and PA system. The judges tend to miss the joke at events like this being terribly concerned about their images: Arlene Philips was harsh but fair, Louise Spence took himself a bit seriously but the star of the night for me was Jonny Vaughan, who warned me in advance that he had been told to be the meanest of the judges. He took his role to heart and was spectacularly cruel, to the point of offending huge numbers of people both in the acts and the audience.

But I thought he was hilarious and the truth is that standing up there, dressed as John Lennon, singing a Paul McCartney song with my Les Paul guitar was a bit of a teenage dream come true. Or was it nightmare...?

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