Tuesday,21 May, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1426, (17 - 23 January 2019)
Tuesday,21 May, 2019
Issue 1426, (17 - 23 January 2019)

Ahram Weekly

Little big stars

The enchanting stories and exceptional talents of gifted children from across the Arab world are being showcased on a new TV talent show, writes Ameera Fouad


Labanese Talla El Khouri ,six, dazzled the audience with her performance on the piano

The TV talent show “Little Big Stars” starring the renowned comedian Ahmed Helmi is sure to warm your heart each week as it shows exceptional feats being performed by children from the age of three and above.

Gifted children from across the Arab world from the Atlantic Ocean to the Arabian Sea are featured in each weekly episode to chat with Helmi, sharing their stories, talents and dazzling performances on stage.

“It is not so much about the talent as it is about the charisma of the kids and how much all of them can generate entertaining and exciting spontaneous shows,” Helmi said in an interview with the TV network MBC.

“This is why the show is different from ‘Arabs Got Talent’. We can host children without any kind of competitive intentions and just for the joy, inspiration and happiness of it,” he added.

The show also hosts children who have taken the Internet by storm whether on Youtube, Instagram, Facebook or any other kind of social media platform hitting millions of likes and views. It is one of the main reasons why many children love the show for its simplicity and its diversity in presenting their talents.

“I love the show. I love watching other kids who are my age,” said Ahmed Yassin, six years old. “When I saw Ali who loves bacteria or Mohamed who wants to become a scientist, I felt I was not alone in my dreams and there were many kids like me.”

Yassin, who wants to become a mechanical engineer, is fond of building cars out of Lego blocks. With the help of his father, he can supplement them with small electric motors too.

Abdallah Yasser, the four-million viewer star , in Little Big Stars

The comparative absence of TV shows for and about children has become a problem in the Middle East and Arab world. “TV channels used to dedicate hours of airtime for children and teenagers at various times of the day, but recently these programmes have disappeared and now the kids have nothing to watch,” Mohamed Abdel-Tawab, a media specialist, told Al-Ahram Weekly.

“This is why many kids have resorted to video games and mobile applications instead.”

Abdel-Tawab remembers that in the 1980s and 1990s he used to watch TV shows like “Mama Samiha”, “Bokloz and Mama Nagwa”, and Cinema Al-Atfal (Children’s Cinema) on the national TV channels. “In Ramadan, there was always something on for kids like ‘Bogy and Tamtam’ and so on. But today there are only one or two shows for kids the whole year round. I am happy to see that one of them is ‘Little Big Stars’,” he said.

“It carries the message for all kids that you can be the person you want to be and realise the dreams you have,” he added.

Although “Little Big Stars” is adapted from the US TV show “Little Big Shots” hosted by Steve Harvey, its Arabic version has its own flavour. “The kids are funny, playful and very talented,” commented programme-maker Mohamed al-Sayed on the show’s Facebook page.

Moreover, the show presents a wide array of kids with different talents from various parts of the Arab world, including Egypt, Palestine, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Sudan, Iraq and Syria.

Their talents vary too, from Adham Shafik, three, who is a genius at spotting any country on the map, to Sheikha Zayed, seven, who loves archery, and Mohamed Said who turned the audience’s heads by his dazzling African dance performance, to Ali, the five-year-old scientist who is fond of bacteriology.

Rawia Al-Hunaidi, mother of the young songwriter and poet Nour Kadoumi who starred in the second episode of the show, did not hesitate a moment to showcase her talented daughter when she was nominated to join the show from Kuwait.

Al-Hunaidi says that the crew was great to work with, right from the moment the producer contacted the family to go to Beirut and be Helmi’s guest.

“Helmi is famous for being the best and the most genuine of presenters working with children. All the kids love him, in addition to adults, and this is why the show is a hit,” she said. “It is a great boost for the kids to showcase their talents in a non-competitive way. It is hard to imagine how much positive impact this show has on kids. It boosts their self-esteem and makes them believe more in themselves and in their talents.”

Adham Shafik, three, from Egypt surprised the audience with his wit and smart answers

Nour is a multi-talented young songwriter, composer and singer who loves writing and singing about the societal issues kids and teenagers may suffer from. During her talk with Helmi, she sang the song “Do not Hide it” depicting bullying issues for children at school and how important it is to talk to someone about annoyances that can cause kids’ frustration and may lead to depression.

Suffering from bullying herself, Nour recalled how she overcame it at school by speaking out to her parents. She encourages all children who might have the same problem “not to hide it” and to talk about the problem with their friends and family.

Season one of “Little Big Stars” is being watched by around five million people across the Arab countries, according to MBC Channel statistics. Since the show started airing on the MBC Masr Channel last November, social media has gone into overdrive about the return of Helmi with the hashtag #Helmi is back with the kids.

Helmi is famous for his playfulness and humour, and his career goes back to his first ever TV appearance in 1998 in a show called Leab Eyal (Playing with Kids) andwthen Man Sayarbah Al-Bonbon (Who Wins the Sweet?) and Shwayet Eyal (Some Kids).

He has been sorely missed, and his comeback in “Little Big Stars” has made him into an Arab version of Steve Harvey, though many viewers might not agree. For them, he is much better.

Despite some voices criticising the adoption of an American TV model in the Arab world, Helmi’s work in originating his own material has made the show a number one hit for kids.

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