Top five TV picks of the week

Rod Stewart and the opening act, Arielle. Photo / Supplied
Rod Stewart and the opening act, Arielle. Photo / Supplied

Pick of the week: Opening Act

His ex-missus is an international reality show veteran and now a judge on New Zealand's Got Talent and now it's the turn of Rod Stewart for a brief appearance in the reality show spotlight.

He's the first headline star in Opening Act, the latest small-screen popstar-creation format by Nigel Lythgoe, the English producer of Pop Idol and American Idol, and creator of So You Think You Can Dance.

Unlike other American reality talent quests, this one has no voting, no auditions, no soppy back story. No entries are permitted either.

The winner is announced at the start and the selected artist or artists have just five days to get it together for their big break.

Lythgoe and his development team, which includes Mary J Blige, Jason Derulo, Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz and country star Martina McBride, sift through countless YouTube clips to find suitable acts to open concerts for some of the biggest names in the music industry with Stewart featuring in his Las Vegas show with his plucked-from-obscurity warm-up act, Arielle.

Among the other artists, Lythgoe must find opening acts for are Lady Gaga (for her recent tour in Australia with the resulting episode the season finale), Nicki Minaj, LMFAO, Gym Class Heroes, and Jason Mraz.

Finding someone suitable on YouTube is a far cry from meeting them in person, Lythgoe says. "One group, Joy Island, are what we call a real rock 'n' roll party band, and they start drinking when they wake up.

"When you look at someone on the internet you don't know that's what they're like and we had to kick their asses and say: 'You have to knuckle down here'.

"We didn't know the kid who opened for Gaga was a Jehovah's Witness and his mum was dead against it.

"We opened up Pandora's Box and that is what makes intriguing television."

The experience is invaluable for the young artists who can boast about their experience and use it as a selling point down the track.

All those chosen went through an emotional roller coaster, from the high of being chosen to the low of doubting their capabilities, Lythgoe says.

"The opening act is always the worst place to be because 50 per cent of the audience is out having a drink and the other 50 per cent never came to see you in the first place. Every single act they play for was once an opening act for someone else when they started so it's them believing they are giving back to the industry."

When: Tuesdays, 9.30pm
Where: E!
What: Plucked from obscurity

Music pick: The Voice

The battle for TV talent quest viewers hots up with the American version of The Voice starting tomorrow night up against rival show The X Factor over on TV 3. That means long-time pop princess foes Britney Spears (X Factor) and Christina Aguilera (The Voice) will be having their own personal battle. Christina will be hoping she doesn't have to deal with freaky stalkers, as has poor Britney.

In the opening episode of The Voice the search to find team members starts for coaches Aguilera, country singer Blake Shelton, Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, and pop crazy Cee Lo Green. The show starts with blind auditions, where the coaches have their backs to the artists as they sing. If a coach likes what they hear they hit the buzzer, their chair turns around and the singer is on the team. If more than one coach turns, the contestant must choose.

When: Friday, 7.30pm
Where: TV2
What: So you think you can sing

Nature pick: Tiger: Spy in The Jungle

They have to be the best-looking wild cats, with their striking orange, white and black markings. The Natural World series takes a behind-the-scenes look at tigers living deep inside the Indian jungle.

To get up close and personal with the big cats, elephants donned "trunk-cams" to go into places that had never been filmed before to "spy" on the tigers. Once again narrated by Sir David Attenborough, and filmed over the course of two years, it documents three different stages of a tiger's life: as a playful cub; as a formative adolescent learning skills; and as a young adult out hunting and fending for itself.

It's a real action-packed adventure. Much of the entertainment factor comes not from the tiger cubs but the oversized camera assistants whom Attenborough calls "the ultimate all-terrain camera vehicle".

When: Tuesday, 8.30pm
Where: TV One
What: Tiger, tiger burning bright

History pick: Michael Wood's Story of England

In this new British series, English historian and broadcaster Michael Wood uses the story of one place - the village of Kibworth, Leicestershire - to explore English history.

Kibworth is located in the heart of England, and has survived its most difficult events. After enduring the great 14th-century famine, two-thirds of the population died during the Black Death. Then there was the Civil War, the Industrial Revolution, and even a World War II bombing.

With the help of residents, and using archaeology, landscape, language and DNA, Wood also uncovers the lost history of the first 1000 years of the village, featuring a Roman villa, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings, and evidence of life on the eve of the Norman conquest. This is a moving and informative picture of one local community's march through time.

When: Monday, 7.30pm
Where: Prime
What: History through the story of one village.

Food pick: Annabel Langbein: The Free Range Cook

Returning to her lakeside cabin in Wanaka, chef, writer and TV presenter Annabel Langbein is back for another series based on her philosophy that quality natural ingredients need little in the way of fussy preparation. This is particularly so if you have jetboats, helicopters, or a trusty yellow food truck, to whisk you off to meet local producers and gather quality ingredients - which she combines with her own seasonal harvests.

The first episode begins in time for a grape harvest so Langbein sets off to Central Otago vineyard Mt Maude to cook lunch for the grape pickers. She takes with her a loaf of Turkish bread, an orange cake and her home-made Vin d'Orange.

At the vineyard she fires up the grill on the back of her truck to cook a lentil and mint soup, and a generous platter of spicy beef salad to match with the vineyard's pinot noir.

When: Saturday, 7pm
Where: TV One
What: In search of naturally good food

- TimeOut / AAP

- NZ Herald

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