The Spanish Language Blog

When discussing the topic of talent shows in Spain, perhaps our thoughts turn to international franchises such as Masterchef or La Voz. However, this article will aim to go back to the beginning of this television genre in Spain looking at its origins, its development and its success nowadays.

The talent show format appeared in Spain around the same as Televisión Española (TVE), the Spanish national, state-owned, public television channel first broadcast regular programs. Hacia la fama, which could be considered to be one of the first examples of this style of entertainment, emerged onto Spanish television screens in 1957. In this competition, presented by the journalists Ángel de Echenique and Blanca Álvarez, young, talented writers and later musicians, mimes and dancers pitted their skills against each other. Viewers then voted by mail for the person who they thought should win the first prize.

While this program was still running, TVE released another talent show called Cara nuevas (1957).  It involved contestants completing a series of trials with the winner obtaining a job at the aforementioned broadcaster. This contest helped to launch the careers of some of Spain´s most highly regarded television presenters including Miguel de los Santos and José Luis Uribarri. After these two programs were taken off the air, several other series replaced them offering hopefuls the opportunity to demonstrate a wide variety of different skills from singing with Salto a la fama (1963-1965)to dancing with Danzas de España (1966), a show where couples from each of Spain’s provinces competed in elimination rounds introducing the public to their regional dances. All of these shows were aired for varying amounts of time with Spain’s longest running one so far being Gentejoven (1974-1987), a musical program which helped artists such as the Sevillian singer María del Monte and the pop group Mecano become successful.

It was, however, in the 2000s that this type of entertainment started to gather momentum with a notable program being Operación Triunfo (2001-2011).This competition, which gained immediate popularity among Spanish viewers, combined elements of Pop Idol and Big Brother as participants took part in live shows while the audience got to see them interacting during their daily lives. The winner received a recording contract while in the first three seasons, they also had the chance to represent Spain at the Eurovision song contest.

In addition to having their own homegrown talent shows, Spanish channels have also adapted international franchises for their audiences.  For example, in 2007 and 2008 the private television channel Cuatro produced the program Factor X which is based on the British X Factor series and which aims to find the next big singer with a recording contract at stake. Masterchef, which originated in Britain, has also enjoyed and is enjoying success in Spain with adult and junior versions being made by TVE in collaboration with Shine Iberia.  The cooks take part in several different, individual and team challenges inside and outside the studio, with the victor getting 100,000 euros, a recipe book deal and the opportunity to attend the prestigious le Cordon Bleu Madrid cooking school.

One other show which is worth mentioning is La Voz, the Spanish adaptation of the original Voice of Holland. It includes three stages starting with the blind auditions where the judges choose singers for their teams, moving to the battle phase where two members of the same team battle against each other in duets with one advancing into the next round and finishing with the live performances. As in aforementioned musical shows the singers compete for a record deal.

In conclusion, if after reading this article you have been inspired to share a talent you have, just go and do it. You can either apply for a talent show in your own country or look at competing in one abroad. Don’t hide your light under a bushel. Let the world know about your cooking, singing, dancing and writing abilities or any other skills you might have and who knows, one day you might become famous.

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