Paddy McGuinness on new BBC1 tribute show: 'It's not Stars in their Eyes!'

Even Better Than The Real Thing
(Image credit: BBC/ James Stack)

Do not adjust your sets! For one night only, Paddy McGuinness brings together some of the world’s best tribute acts for a one-hour special. Here, he tells us why these superstar doubles are the real deal...

Paddy McGuinness on why the tribute acts on his new singing show are simply the best…

When Paddy McGuinness got the call to host his brand new show Even Better Than The Real Thing, it brought back fond memories of a trip to Las Vegas.

"I was walking down The Strip and I saw this billboard sign for: One Night with the Vegas Legends, a show featuring tribute acts of Dolly Parton and Elvis,’ recalls Paddy, best known for hosting ITV dating show Take Me Out. ‘I thought it would be a giggle, so I went along to watch and I was blown away by how good these singers were. So when I was told that this show would feature the best tribute acts from around the world, it reminded me of that Legends show and I thought: 'This’ll be good!'"

In the one-hour special on BBC1 this Saturday, Paddy brings together some seriously talented tribute acts – including Whitney Houston, Bruno Mars, George Michael, Amy Winehouse and Little Mix – for a star-studded night of entertainment.

Here, Paddy McGuinness, 44, reveals to TV Times why some of these tributes really are even better than the real thing…

TV Times: People will inevitably compare Even Better Than the Real Thing to Stars in their Eyes. What makes this show different?

Paddy McGuinness: "The main difference for me, as a fan of Stars in their Eyes growing up and then being involved in this show, is that these people are professional tribute artists from all over the world who do it for a living. On Stars in their Eyes, someone will come on and say: 'I'm Dougie, a plumber from Bradford and tonight I'm gonna be Sir Tom Jones'. There's none of that on this show. Don't expect people you might see down your local Working Mens' Club, who do a bit of karaoke in the evenings – these are genuine, first-class tribute artists and that’s their full-time job!"

TVT: So what kind of tribute acts can we expect to see on this show?

PM: "We have five tribute artists who actually compete in the show - Whitney Houston, Bruno Mars, George Michael, Amy Winehouse and Little Mix – then a special 'VIP area' where another 15 tribute acts sit and watch throughout. I love the fact you could have Liam Gallagher sat with Elton John and Kate Bush having a chat – it's just hilarious! All of these acts stay in character on the show so, as well as sounding amazing, they really look like their chosen artist. The Madonna tribute was the spitting image of her, which really freaked me out!"

Even Better Paddy and George

Paddy has a natter in the VIP area with 'George Michael'

TVT: How does the show work?

PM: "The five chosen tribute acts will perform and then, out of those five, the studio audience will vote for their favourite. The top three tributes go through to the next round where they'll each sing a duet with a different tribute act sitting in the VIP area. We don't reveal who that is until they're through but it literally could be as random as Lady Gaga duetting with Slash from Guns N' Roses! The audience votes again and the tribute act with the most votes is the winner."


Even Better Whitney Houston

'Whitney Houston' hits the high notes during the one-hour special

TVT: You've described this show as 'a talent show that's only about the talent'. Do you think other talent shows aren't then?

PM: "When you watch some of the big TV talent shows, sometimes the judges’ personalities are so big and exuberant that it can take over a little bit and detract from whoever’s performing on stage. Whereas on this show, it’s just the tribute acts doing their thing and, I’ve got to say, some of them are truly unbelievable. There’s nobody critiquing them afterwards and only the studio audience gets to vote."

TVT: Do you enjoy a bit of karaoke from time to time?

PM: "Like most people with karaoke, I only get up to sing once I’ve had a few bevvies. If I walked into a pub stone cold sober and there was a karaoke, I’d never get on it in a million years. But once you get a bit of Dutch courage, you think: 'I'll have a go at anything, it's only a bit of fun'. I’ve been known to belt out a bit of Sweet Caroline!"

TVT: Did you have as much fun filming this show as you do on Take Me Out?

PM: "When I film Take Me Out I'm on the studio floor all day with the lads and the girls, having a chat and getting to know them so that, when the cameras are rolling, they feel more at ease and it makes better telly. I did exactly the same on this show; just hung out with all the different acts all day during rehearsals and stuff. So it was a similar process for me – except nobody goes on a date at the end!"

Even Better Than the Real Thing can be seen on Saturday September 16 at 7pm on BBC1.

Victoria Wilson
Feature Writer for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and

With over 20 years’ experience writing about TV and film, Vicky currently writes features for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week magazines plus news and watching guides for, a job which involves chatting to a whole host of famous faces. Our Vicky LOVES light entertainment, with Strictly Come Dancing, Britain’s Got Talent and The Voice UK among her fave shows. Basically, if it’s got a shiny floor, she’s all over it! When she’s not watching TV, you might find Vicky in therapy… retail therapy that is!