Britain’s Got Semi-Talent

150 150 Rob McGibbon

And, so, to Fountain Studios in Wembley for a seat behind the judges at a live semi-final of Britain’s Got Talent. What an extraordinary experience.

I have dipped into the series since a night of undiluted hilarity at the auditions in Hackney, so the thought of some more live action was an easy lure.

A glass of pink champagne backstage got me in the mood for Simon, Piers and Amanda, and, boy, do you need some happy fuel to attend these shows; the crew get you clapping and on your feet constantly like demented performing seals to generate the feel-good vibe. It is an exhausting two hours which leaves you with raw hands and arthritic knees. But it is worth the effort.

Love it or hate it, BGT is one weird whirl of high purity entertainment – good and bad. It makes you cringe, laugh, cheer, boo and cry all in one fatal dose. You sink at the sight of some of the acts – the clueless Indian magician, that troop of a hundred hopeless dancers, the bin bashers, and Christine Hamilton going for it in the finale of You Raise Me Up. But then you are up-lifted by the endearing, untarnished talent of the chorister – you know, the boy with bad white heads. His Tears In Heaven made me water a bit.

You can’t help but get caught up in it all when you are there. When the agonising moment came for Cowell to cast the deciding vote between Flava and The Cheeky Monkeys, I found myself shouting out loud.

My head knew it should be Flava – the half-baked dance act with “street” kids who want to make something of themselves – but my heart wanted the two cute little blonde kids who, let’s be honest, are too bloody young to be appearing in an event of this scale. Their act makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. In fact, so uncomfortable, that I shouted out their name to help Cowell decide. I was so near to him that I seriously think my shout – and a few others – helped swing it. I was like a parent at a pantomime who had sunk one too many sweet sherries in the interval. Really, I should be ashamed of myself.