Recommended second chance
Are you nursing an incredible, undiscovered ability? Richard Bacon wants to know.
Tell us about Hiddent Talent.
Well, the premise is that we try and find out if people have got a hidden talent that they just didn’t know about. It taps, I think, into people’s dreams – the idea that there’s something you can be brilliant at and you haven’t even considered it.
We had these test days, which were a bit like auditions. Hundreds of people came along to different venues around the country. They didn’t know what they were going to be tested on, they’d simply responded to ads in local papers saying, ‘Do you think you’ve got a hidden talent?’ Then we just ran these quite scientific tests on them, to find out if they could be a good opera singer, rock climber, free diver, a linguist… and a few other things.
After that we got a top 10 in each talent, and then we did a further test a few days later which was much more rigorous, and we whittled them down to the top one. Our winner, if you like. Then we took them out of their job, trained them intensely and concluded with a big finale. For example, there’s a language guy. We tested 800 people and we found a guy who was just better than anyone else at learning languages. He’s been abroad once to Spain, but never learnt another language. He was just unbelievable – he had a natural aptitude for it. He’s 19 years old and he’s been living in a homeless shelter. For our show, he learnt to speak and write Arabic in 19 weeks and then, for his finale, we took him to Jordan and put him live on Jordanian television!
Tell us about some of the other talents…
Well, there’s also a thing that we call art appreciation, that’s really interesting. The ability to look at a piece of art and understand its composition naturally and know if it’s real or it’s fake. Through history, there are people who’ve created forgeries who are themselves incredibly talented, if slightly misdirected. There’s a guy who we actually interview who’s a brilliant artist, and had studied Monet’s work. Rather than copying the Water Lilies, what he would do is invent a ‘new’ Monet. He’d do a painting of a landscape, signed Monet, done in the style of Monet, then break into a museum and change the record to make it look as if this piece had always existed, then put it on at auction for 20 million quid. No one knew! Famously, there are many forgeries hanging in many art galleries in the world, because they just can’t spot them. There are only a tiny, tiny number of people who can, and we found someone. This guy, called Lee, works in a factory in Essex building tractors. He’d never been to an art gallery before, and we did a big test with him with a real Monet – a £50 million Monet… Could he spot it?
How long have you been involved in the show?
Quite a long time. I think we did the test days last May. It’s been quite a long journey, really, to get here. It’s a high quality programme. It’s not a studio show. It’s done on location, documentary-style filming. Erm, it’s a good quality product. There’s no question about it.