Last Singer Standing and The Big Deal bid for Saturday night TV fever

Cantillon: Will RTÉ and Virgin’s new formats make it through to the next round?

What, apart from the money, is the difference between Last Singer Standing (a Saturday night karaoke-themed game show in which singers compete for a €25,000 prize) and The Big Deal, a Saturday night talent format with game show-style jeopardy in which contestants vye to claim a €50,000 prize?

The first of these upcoming Irish television shows is the big RTÉ hope, made for the broadcaster by the veteran hands at Shinawil, with ex-Westlifer Nicky Byrne on hosting duties and his fellow pop stars Nadine Coyle, Joey Fatone and Samantha Mumba conscripted as panellists.

Filming of Last Singer Standing – "a quiz show with a twist" was Byrne's description – isn't due to take place until next month, so this series will have a later air date than Virgin Media Television's The Big Deal, which launches on September 4th.

Billed as an “unpredictable” show, The Big Deal features both singers and a selection of mildly terrifying variety turns, at least some of whom will be offered the temptation of cashing out for a smaller prize rather than competing for the jackpot.


This one is made by Fox Alternative Entertainment – the unscripted television unit of Fox, which owns the format – and Dublin-headquartered Bigger Stage, a new company led by former Virgin Media Television boss Pat Kiely. It is presented by Vogue Williams and boasts a someone-for-everyone judging panel of Boy George, Jedward, former JLS star Aston Merrygold, singer Lyra and the very funny Deirdre O'Kane.

Saturday gap

You may know Fox Alternative Entertainment from such wild – and wildly successful – television experiences as The Masked Singer.

Both Last Singer Standing and the apparently more richly resourced The Big Deal come to Irish screens at a time when the cancellation of once-shiny Saturday night staples such as The X Factor and faltering interest in other ageing formats leaves a gap for a new hit. Both broadcasters have hit upon game show/talent hybrids in their bid to woo viewers.

But when the ratings dust settles and the global sales deals have been done, which will be the Last Format Standing? Place your bets on whichever show comes across as the weirder of the two.