It’s impossible to keep track of the talent competitions on TV these days, but it was RTM who got the reality TV ball rolling back in the 1960s.
ONE can vividly remember watching singer Jamal Abdillah wow the audience and judges at the final of Bintang RTM in 1979 to emerge as the winner. Mind you, Bintang RTM was the only (and highly popular) talent search on television back then. And I watched it in black and white, too.
Bintang RTM has come a long way since it started off as Bintang Radio by Radio Malaya in 1959.
In 1964, Bintang Radio debuted on TV, while TV Malaya organised Bakat TV. The two programmes went on to become favourites for music lovers in the country.
If Bintang RTM was solely based on singing ability, then Bakat TV was where Malaysians were showing off their talents in singing, playing musical instruments, magic shows and stand-up comedy as well. Those were the days when colour TV had yet to hit Malaysian households. These shows were the reality-based talent competitions of their time, but the value of prizes were much lesser then.
It was back in the day when the whole family gathered in front of the tube to catch one of the hottest shows of its time. Undoubtedly, it was one of the greatest shows by RTM back then.
Among the winners of Bakat TV, who later became big stars in their own right, were musicians Abdul Razak Rahman (1971), Abdul Rahim Othman (1972) and comedian-actor-director A.R. Badul (1975).
Bintang RTM became an annual event until 1986, and many big names in the industry got their exposure through the show. The luminaries include Datuk Dahlan Zainuddin, the late Datuk Sudirman Haji Arshad, Rosemaria, Jennifer Yen, M. Rizal, Muhaini Suratman, Yunizar Hussein, Najib Hanif, Rohana Jalil, Juliza Adlizan, Safar Ghafar, Raisuddin Hamzah, Ramlah Ram and Noraniza Idris.
When Bintang RTM was yanked off air, many new talent shows sprung up on RTM, such as Bintang HMI, Bintang Penghibur HMI, Suara 90’an, Golden Teen Search, Bintang Gala 2 and Teen Star.
And once again, many big stars got their first break in the entertainment industry via these shows. Notable among them are Datuk Siti Nurhaliza (Bintang HMI) and Adibah Noor (Suara 90’an), along with Dayang Nurfaizah and Candy Cheah (both from Bintang Penghibur HMI). The list of big stars include Nora, Liza Hanim, Nur Fatimah, Dia Fadila, Carol Oormila, Mas Idayu, Ani Mayuni, Esther Khoo, Alya, Zehra Zambri and Arnieza Amir.
Following a 13-year hiatus, Bintang RTM made a couple of comebacks in 1999 and 2001, providing a platform for singers like Azharina, Misha Omar, Siti Sarah Raisuddin, Farawahida, Sharifah Zarina and Ameer Sofaz.
After yet another break (three years, this time), Bintang RTM returned in 2004 and was subsequently held in the following years – 2005, 2007 and 2009.
However, by this time, other more popular talent search competitions, such as Akademi Fantasia (Astro), Malaysian Idol (8TV), Mentor (TV3) and One In A Million (8TV), had overshadowed Bintang RTM – the pioneer of talent search competitions in the country.
Contrary to popular belief, Bintang RTM is still very much alive and kicking and last year, with minimal publicity, it (Bintang RTM) crowned its latest winner in Aisha Masnamimi Safia, 23, who took home a Chery car and cash worth RM20,000.
And RTM has continued organising other talent search competitions in recent years, such as Dendang Rakyat (folklore singing competition), a practice to this day. In fact, the station has expanded its talent search and now includes Rentak Juara (battle of the bands), Bintang Klasik Nasional (traditional music), Pentas Pilih Kasih (for upcoming/budding actors) and Juara Asyik (for native Orang Asli).
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