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Continuing the BBC's Sound of Cinema season, BBC Four broadcast Secret Voices of Hollywood last week. The documentary shed light on one of the most under-appreciated and little-known areas of film production in Tinseltown - that of the 'ghost singer'. During the Golden Age of Hollywood musicals, vocalists such as Betty Noyes, Marni Nixon and Bill Lee covered vocals for some of Hollywood's biggest names. Noyes covered Debbie Reynolds in Singing in the Rain, Nixon provided vocals for Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady and Lee assisted Christopher Plummer in The Sound of Music. These invisible stars were a trade secret to everyone outside of Hollywood, and if the big moguls still wielded the power they once had back in the heyday it would remain so. This enlightening programme returns the credit long owed to these talented individuals as well as show the rapid decline of the practice, when the grip of control by the studio heads begins to slip.

Today we have seen an increase in actors and actresses who are non-singers taking on large roles in major musical productions. We've had Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge!, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter in Sweeney Todd and significant numbers in the cast of Les Misérables. Success is varied, depending on your point of view. But it seems a shame that the use of ghost singers has been lost completely. Society has grown accustomed to their celebrities receiving credit for their rightful endeavours, so the use of a vocalist dubbing them over would cause a little consternation among audiences. This is understandable, but I would like to put forward an argument for their continued use - Mamma Mia!

I feel at times that I am the only one who was invited to the party and did not have a good time. I found Phyllida Lloyd's musical rom-com to be lacking in anything even remotely entertaining. A tonally deaf, badly edited and severely unfunny movie, the real discoloured icing on the stale cake for me was the so-called "vocals" provided by the (otherwise very talented) cast. Listening to Pierce Brosnan murdering SOS had me trying to stab pencils into my ears in a failed attempt to puncture my eardrums and save myself from an even more unbearable pain. Am I alone in feeling that the use of ghost singers would have, at the very least, allowed me to work through the rest of the movie without smashing my head in despair throughout? While it may not have improved the movie as a whole, at least it would have allowed me to bear it with a little more ease. 
 
I still feel there is a place for these talented artists. Without doubt they should be given full credit when utilized, but when the alternative is Meryl Streep desperately "emoting" through The Winner Takes It All I think the call for a return of the likes of Marni Nixon is justified. Am I right or am I way off-key with this?