It's crunch time on Britain's Got Talent tonight – here, we meet five acts hoping to make it into the live finals
22:29 GMT, 4 May 2012
There are ten Britain’s Got Talent contenders gathered at Weekend’s lavish Hollywood-style photoshoot, making up the five acts we’ve hand-picked as some of the likeliest – and quirkiest – performers to be on the list when the live finalists are announced tonight.
But even among these performers there’s one stand-out star. He preens and poses for the camera with barely any direction. Every shot’s a winner, and when he’s told to look cute he places his head in his paws and gives what looks uncannily like a smile.
Pudsey the dog and his trainer Ashleigh could well give dog-lover Simon Cowell, who’s not had the best of months, something to smile about with what promises to be the best dog act yet.
From left: Britain's Got Talent contenders Aquabatique, Paige Turley, Dennis Egel, Ashleigh Butler and Pudsey and Charlotte Jaconelli and Jonathan Antoine
‘I’ve watched BGT since the start and I’ve seen where other dog acts have gone wrong,’ says the surprisingly steely Ashleigh, 17. ‘That gives us an advantage and we have a lot more tricks up our sleeve.’ But she’s not the only act determined to win. The girls from synchronised swimming group Aquabatique, who star in tonight’s final round of auditions, have been working nine hours a day in a cold tank in order to impress the judges.
While Dennis Egel, the German window dresser who was given the thumbs-up by three of the judges despite one of the wings from his golden angel suit falling off, also plans an even bigger surprise should he get through. ‘This time I’d love to fly like an eagle,’ he says in his stilted English.
So who’s got what it takes to win the talent show, 500,000 and the chance to perform at the Royal Variety Show
JONATHAN AND CHARLOTTE
Who are they: Cuddly classical singer Jonathan Antoine, 17, from Ilford in Essex and his singing partner of two years Charlotte Jaconelli, 16, a musical theatre student. Jonathan was compared to Susan Boyle when the pair auditioned and Simon Cowell advised him to dump Charlotte, which he refused to do.
Jonathan says: ‘I’d never really considered BGT but Charlotte decided to fill out the form and we thought it would be a good stepping stone for whatever we do. When we had a standing ovation it was incredible. Actually, I feel those are inadequate words; it’s impossible to sum up how I felt but appearing on the show has already made a big difference to me.
Charlotte: 'It was really gutting when
Simon told Jonathan he'd be better off without me.'
DENNIS EGEL: 'I feel the wings have got me this far and I'm planning to fly like an eagle if I get to the semis.'
ASHLEIGH AND PUDSEY: 'Everyone knows Simon likes a good dog act, but we know we have to up our game.'
‘When we auditioned for the show I was in a rubbish place in my head. I suffer from depression and had just had a breakdown because I’d struggled with moving schools. BGT has really helped me, as has Charlotte who’s always protected me. I used to walk down the street and people would give me funny looks and that would be horrible. Now when they’re looking at me they’re thinking, “That’s the guy from the telly.” I went to Bristol the other day to see a friend at university there and what should have been a five-minute journey took half an hour because so many people wanted their pictures taken with me. I’m having fun now. I’ve signed several autographs – I had to come up with a signature because I didn’t even have one before – and I’ve even had a few marriage proposals on Twitter.
‘We don’t know how far we’ll get in the competition. We’re both into different styles of music but we’re working hard in the hope that we’ll get through to the final and we look forward to seeing where this will take us.’
Charlotte says: ‘Before auditioning we agreed we were going in as a duo and would stay as a duo. We know the way these shows go and what they do for entertainment. I was upset by Simon’s comments but I’m going to try and channel that into proving a point; I’m normally confident so I’m trying to take it as constructive criticism.
‘Jonathan and I got together by accident; our singing teacher put us together as we needed a duet for our music GCSE. But then we started getting asked to perform together more and more. We weren’t friends before but now we’re really good pals and, more than anything else, this has been such a nice thing to do together. In the future Jonathan wants to go into classical music and I want to be in musical theatre so we see this as a way of opening doors. We’ve been working hard but it’s difficult as I have school and I work at the weekend in a clothes shop. We practise for about four hours every three days and we hope that will be enough to get us through to the final.’
ASHLEIGH AND PUDSEY
Who are they: Schoolgirl Ashleigh Butler, 17, from Northampton, and her six-year-old dancing dog Pudsey, a cross breed of Bichon Frise, Border Collie and Chinese Crested Powder Puff. Simon immediately fell in love with the pair.
I’d never really considered BGT but
Charlotte decided to fill out the form… it’s impossible to sum up how I felt but appearing on the show has already made a big difference to me.
Ashleigh says: ‘Pudsey and I have been doing canine freestyle for about three years with my mum, my sister and our five other dogs. But Pudsey has always been a natural. Getting him to walk on his back legs took a lot of training but now he loves it; if he could do a whole routine like that he would.
‘I use a lot of food to train him; his favourite’s a ham sandwich. It has to have butter on; he’s very picky and becoming more diva-like than ever since we were on the show. He’s been trying to sneak up to my bedroom when he knows he’s only allowed to sleep in his bed in the kitchen. He’s also demanding a lot more treats. I dread to think what he’ll be like if we get to the final; he definitely understands something big has happened.
‘Everywhere we go he gets a lot more attention. It’s all about Pudsey; I barely get a look-in. Dog shows have been my life for the last few years; at the weekends I’m up at 5am with my family and it means I’m sometimes too tired for a social life. But it’s my choice and I won’t change it.
‘After we got such a great reaction at our audition we’ve stepped up our training. As soon as I come home from school Pudsey’s ready. If he didn’t enjoy it I wouldn’t carry on. But all he wants to do is please me and he’s absolutely amazing to train; he’s always up for it. We’ve been together since he was born; my mum gave him to me as my 11th birthday present and everything we do, we do together. He can get a bit jealous; when my sister got a new dog Pudsey would get the hump if I went near him so I’m not sure what he’d be like if I had a boyfriend.
‘I decided we should go on BGT because I thought it was time to challenge ourselves. I’ve watched the show for the last six years and I know what needs to be different. We’ve had so many positive comments, but we know we can’t let anyone down. So we’re planning something nobody’s seen before.’
Pudsey says: ‘Ruff ruff, ruff!’
Who is she: The shy and pretty 14-year-old schoolgirl from West Lothian in Scotland who was praised by Simon as ‘really interesting and a unique voice’ when she performed Bon Iver’s Skinny Love on the show.
‘I’ve been singing since I was tiny but this year I felt ready for BGT
and was pleased Simon was a judge because he’s important in the
industry. Susan Boyle’s always
been my inspiration. She lives a couple of miles down the road from me
and I’ve met her a few times; she’s lovely. Susan knows my singing
teacher and she’s been to a few of my teacher’s charity events that I’ve
performed at. When I told Susan I was going on BGT she said the most
important thing is to be myself.
PAIGE TURLEY: 'It would be amazing to follow in Susan Boyle's footsteps and make Scotland proud.'
‘Performing is already a big part of my life. I do a lot of charity events in our village and it’s meant I have to miss friends’ parties, but this is all I want to do. I can get a little nervous before I perform and the idea of singing on live television is terrifying. But my mum’s brilliant at calming me down.
‘My parents have always been so supportive and encouraging. They’re just happy if I’m happy and they keep my feet on the ground. I still have to tidy my room and unload the dishwasher. Going back to school after my appearance on BGT was fun. I’d only told a couple of friends I was applying so everyone went mad. A few younger pupils even asked for my autograph. I’ve also got thousands of new followers on Twitter and I’ve even had a couple of boys give me their number; but I’m not interested in boys at the moment.
‘I know appearing on a reality show is no guarantee of success and it’s a worry that everything could just vanish. But I’d love to bring out a record. Winning would be a dream come true… and I’m looking forward to the shopping spree.’
Who is he: Singer and window dresser Dennis, 43, from Germany, was buzzed off by Simon almost as soon as he started singing, and by Alesha Dixon a few seconds later. But while they didn’t love his music, his immaculate costume won over fans. Intricate pulleys gradually lifted four gold lam wings – although one fell off. /05/03/article-2138984-12E6A262000005DC-561_306x423.jpg” width=”306″ height=”423″ alt=”AQUABATIQUE: 'With the Olympics just around the corner, this feels like it could be our time.'” class=”blkBorder” />
AQUABATIQUE: 'With the Olympics just around the corner, this feels like it could be our time.'
‘I waited six hours to perform and I
heard a lot of buzzes. But when Simon and Alesha buzzed me I was
concentrating so hard on my costume I didn’t hear it. I also didn’t
notice the problem with one of my wings until I watched the show back.
I’ve fixed it now but I see it as a sign. I arrived on stage with four
judges and four wings and I left with three wings and three yeses. No one in Germany knows about my
performance; only my wife. I haven’t told my parents [by now he’s in
tears] and I’ll only tell them if I get through to the final. I’ll be
ashamed if I don’t. They live hundreds of miles away from me and I want
to tell them, “I’m in the final of Britain’s Got Talent, fly over!” I
want to show them what I’ve done.’
Who are they: Student Beth Smith, 22, from Birmingham, personal trainer Jazmine Stansbury, 23, from Reading, swimming school manager Zoe Cooper, 28, from Shrewsbury and beauty therapist Emily Kuhl, 22, from Yateley are all former international synchronised swimmers who now work as a foursome performing both in swimming pools and a large tank. Tonight they audition in the freezing cold outside Cardiff Arena.
Jazmine says: ‘We’re friends from competing against each other, and then being on the British team together. When we left the team we joined an agency called Aquabatix which works with former synchronised swimmers. We’ve performed all over the world, but it was only when we found a tank we could hire that we decided to try our luck on Britain’s Got Talent. It’s Olympic year and we’re patriotic so this would mean so much.
Beth says: ‘We’re a bit different from traditional synchronised swimmers because normally the choreography is only about what you can see outside of the water – for us we have to synchronise inside the water too.
Emily says: ‘We’ve put our lives on hold, we’ve all moved to Peterborough where our tank is, and we rehearse every day for nine or ten hours. It’s not glamorous; the tank is in a fish food factory with no windows. We suffer from motion sickness, we get chlorine burns, goggle eyes and we’re covered in bruises. I also broke my rib so I’ve had to have a few days off. My doctor said two weeks but that won’t give us long enough.
Zoe says: ‘Everything has to be so precise that we spend four hours working on just ten seconds of the routine. We film our rehearsals and then see where we went wrong. We’ve all had moments where it’s seemed too much; but we have a goal in mind. If we won, most of our money would be funnelled back into the act because we’d all love to do it full-time. We’d love to be like Diversity underwater. We want to show how entertaining the sport can be.’
Find out who makes it through to the semi-finals tonight on Britain’s Got Talent at 8.45pm on ITV1. The live shows begin tomorrow at 8pm and continue from Monday to Thursday at 7.30pm.