All is not what it seems on the latest series of American Idol. Yes we have a succession of wannabes putting themselves through the butt clenchingly embarrassing series of auditions. Yes we have the usual collection of sob stories of youngsters who want to make a dead relative proud, or give a child a future. And yes we have the three judges fighting amongst themselves in a set of contrived disagreements to pump up ratings and keep the advertisers' cash rolling in. But wait - are these three really our normal trio of Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell? Look a little closer and, depending on the time of day, Mr C may look just a little bit different.
The reason is simple - there are two Simon Cowells this season. Well ok, there is only one Simon Cowell. But there is also one Archie Critchley - from Dagenham, UK. Critchley is a Cowell lookalike and has been employed by the Svengali to stand in for him when he is a bit hung over, bored or horny.
"I realised that I was wasting alot of my time watching dead beat losers, instead of capitalising on my superstar lifestyle" Cowell told this website "I am seventy three this year and time is running out. Archie was eeking out a meagre living as a taxi driver in London when I saw him over the summer. He told me as we drove to Harrods how many people thought he was me. I thought - hell I could get him to sit in for me first thing in the morning or during the god awful moments. It was a case of teach him a few stock phrases, teach him the Simon Scowl and pump up the arrogance and noone would notice"
It would seem a stroke of genius. London cabbies are famed for being know-all, bigotted and unreasonable and so Archie has fitted in perfectly to his new role.
The plan appears to be working. Certainly Fox have received no complaints about the switch and are now looking for lookalikes for Paula and Randy to take the pressure of the other two judges. The fact that this shows how empty and vacuous the whole American Idol concept is does not seem to worry the station. As a spokesperson said: "Our motto is cash first, quality, er....." and they tailed off