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Last Updated: Friday, 11 April 2008, 11:41 GMT 12:41 UK
Norton defends BBC talent shows
Graham Norton
His current show sees hopefuls competing for roles in Oliver!

TV host Graham Norton has defended BBC talent shows like I'd Do Anything after Kevin Spacey claimed they were a "13-week promotion for a musical".

Norton, who hosts the show on BBC One, said he could understand Spacey's frustration that people didn't want to go to see plays.

Norton said: "Maybe he should put a musical on and people will go to see that."

Spacey is artistic director of the Old Vic theatre in London.

Speaking at a reception for Bafta TV nominees, Norton said: "In the end, he is right - we are promoting the fact that Oliver is going to be on in the West End.

'Bore everyone'

"But equally every week we feature lots of musicals on the show and I don't think our show means you can't bring back Play For Today."

Spacey had previously suggested the BBC should bring back the landmark BBC series that produced Mike Leigh's Abigail's Party and Ken Loach's Cathy Come Home.

Norton added: "I think it would be very bad to do a reality show casting the lead of The Iceman Cometh, called 'We'd Bore Everyone'."

Kevin Spacey
Spacey is starring in David Mamet's play Speed-the-Plow at the Old Vic

Norton's current show I'd Do Anything sees hopefuls compete for the roles of Nancy and Oliver in Lionel Bart's musical version of Oliver Twist.

Speaking of its success he said: "Viewing figures so far have been fantastic and I think everyone is really kind of bowled over by how good the girls are.

"And the Oliver is obviously making people cry on a regular basis."

In previous shows How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? and Any Dream Will Do, actors competed to star in Andrew Lloyd Webber's productions of The Sound of Music and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Oliver! is being produced by Sir Cameron Mackintosh, although Lord Lloyd Webber remains on the judging panel.

In response to Spacey's comments, the BBC previously replied that its shows were not "unduly promotional".

Elaine Bedell, controller of entertainment commissioning, said: "These Saturday night shows celebrate musical theatre generally, not just one West End show."

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