THERE have been countless TV talent shows in recent years all over the world but RTÉ are confident they are on to a winner with their latest offering, The Hit.
The six-part series gets under way on July 26 and the whole focus will be on the songwriters and not the singers.
It’s a clever original Irish format that the broadcaster hopes will emulate the global success of Dutch format The Voice and British format The X Factor.
The show will see aspiring writers pitch their work to established Irish artists in front of a live TV audience at Dublin’s O2 Arena.
TV presenter Aidan Power will team up with Westlife’s Nicky Byrne for the series (five heats and a grand final) and he’s adamant it could be the next big thing, not just in Ireland.
“It really is a brand new talent show, there have been many in the past but this really is different,” 34-year-old Dubliner Aidan told me.
The focus is on the songwriter as opposed to the singer. Each week there will be six songwriters and they will pitch their songs to established artists.
There will be all manner of artists involved and they get to choose two each. Steve Lillywhite is a top producer based out in Los Angeles and he will be working with them on the songs.
“In the live show we reveal which song each artist has chosen and they perform it on the show. They will be released straight to the charts in Ireland and whichever gets the most downloads gets through.”
It’s a simple concept but interest in the show has been huge, even before an episode has been broadcast.
Aidan continues: “We’re live at the O2 and that in itself will set it apart from all the other talent shows. It’s going to be in the Friday night Late Late Show slot which is interesting because the normal slot for a show like this is 6.30pm on a Sunday.
“RTÉ are right behind it, plus it’s an Irish format. There are people coming over to Dublin from the USA, Australia and Russia to watch us and see what they think of it. It could be the next Voice or X Factor. It has that ‘big event’ feel to it.”
For Power, host of the popular long-running tea-time chat show, The Café, it’s a chance to team up with Byrne as he embarks on the next stage of his career post-Westlife.
He adds: “We only properly met in the last few weeks, but so far so good. I had interviewed Nicky when he was in Westlife. We’ve got together over the last three weeks and he is a very chilled fella, he’s down-to-earth and very real.
“Last year I was actually going to pitch a proposal to RTÉ for a Sunday brunch style show and the name I had in mind for it was Nicky, because he is just a natural.
"The idea was to have two 30-something blokes presenting a lifestyle show on a weekend, talking about everything. I had watched him presenting a number of things before and thought he was brilliant.
“He’s so natural on camera and he has a great personality, plus all the experience of being on stage and chatting to the crowd. Nicky’s great craic as well, which always helps.”
The Hit promises to be one of the more interesting offerings on Irish television this summer and Power is confident it can go on to great things, mainly because it is refreshingly different.
He continues: “The whole singer thing has been done to death. There doesn’t seem to be any outlet for songwriters to get their material out there, apart from maybe somewhere like YouTube. This puts them to the fore and gives them a chance to work with Irish and UK artists who are going to record their material.
“We’ve had more than 1,000 entries. The songs could have been written 10 years ago but they are still that writer’s ‘baby’. It will be interesting to see how they collaborate, that could be one of the more interesting aspects of the show. It’s a massive opportunity.”
All eyes will be on The Hit then, with the chance for it to be sold overseas and generate much-needed revenue for the RTÉ coffers.
The challenge of creating a show that makes that kind of impact is an exciting one for the former Nickleodeon presenter, who admits to being puzzled as to why more Irish shows haven’t sold abroad.
“It’s a curious one. On the one hand you are talking budgets and things like that. Where we have really been successful in TV is with The Lyric Board that was sold to 30-40 countries and is still going in half of them.
"But our international successes have been few and far between. It’s just easier to buy a format. The market is so competitive and maybe we just haven’t put ourselves out there.”
Aidan Power is certainly putting himself out there with The Hit and after presenting Super Bloopers with Zig and Zag you get the impression that working with Byrne and the team will be a doddle!
He adds: “Oh they were hilarious little aliens to work with! They were childhood heroes of mine, which they hated me saying!”
The Hit will run for six weeks with the first live show on July 26 at Dublin’s O2.