1 9 9 0 – Current (UK)
Granada Television took a Dutch programme called The Soundmixshow – in which contestants impersonated famous singers, aided by massive efforts of make-up and costume to make them look and sound like their heroes – and retitled it Stars In Their Eyes.
Some major changes were made to the concept; In the original Dutch show, contestants had sung to pre-recorded backing tracks, effectively karaoke. Granada brought in Ray Monk as musical director and absolutely recreated the sound of the original record. Everybody sang live also, which the show made a big deal of.
Leslie Crowther proved to be the perfect host for the show, which made its debut in July 1990. He would probably have continued to present it evermore, had he not been involved in a terrible car accident on the M5 in October 1992.
Despite being an alcoholic – something he later conquered – on the day of the accident he had not touched a drop, and fatigue was identified as the cause.
Russ Abbot came in as a temporary host, but when it became clear that Crowther would not be able to return to the show, Matthew Kelly took over the job permanently.
Despite being an actor by training rather than a comedian, Kelly shared Crowther’s ability to set the contestants at ease and hosted the show for eleven highly successful years.