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Seacrest and sighs

CHARITY! American Idol, ITV2, 9.00 & 11.00pm

American IdolIt seemed like an odd idea last year: for a show like American Idol that's always felt to be unashamedly about generating extra sources of revenue for record companies to suddenly develop a conscience - especially after foisting Taylor Hicks on an unsuspecting universe the year before - and devote an entire programme to raising money for charity felt weird, somehow. As though we were constantly expecting Ryan Seacrest to announce the whole thing had been an elaborate wind-up and all the donations were going to fund Clive Davis's next annual bonus instead. But no, they raised over $70 million to help fight poverty, and the whole thing was such a success, they're going to do it again this year, and make it bigger. Ah, now that feels like American Idol.

While the whole thing might sound like a rather cringe-worthy effort, there's enough corporate muscle behind the whole thing to pull in some seriously A-list stars, including the likes of Brad Pitt, Mariah Carey and Bono (it was inevitable that he'd turn up, wasn't it?), alongside some slightly less amazing but still bankable stars like Fergie, Celine Dion, Vanessa Hudgens and Miley Cyrus (who, we're sure, was just bein' Miley), as well as Idol alumni such as Fantasia, Elliott Yamin, DAUGHTRY!!11!, and Carrie Underwood.

Last night, the Idols sang "inspirational songs" to gain public support (and really, David Archuleta, 'Angels' inspires us to do a lot of things, none of them good) and following the charity event, there's the inevitable results show. Last year the overwhelming sense of charity so touched the heart of the Idol producers that they decided they couldn't possibly have an elimination on charity night - but will they pull that trick again this year? Or will they decide that the truly charitable thing is to put one of this year's contestants out of their misery and send them home? Either way, we'll find out later.

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