Belfast Telegraph

BGT finalist Mark McMullan back to the books as whirlwind of week goes on

Mark McMullan performs in the Britain’s Got Talent semi-finals
Mark McMullan performs in the Britain’s Got Talent semi-finals
The show’s judges
Mark's brother Declan and parents John and Brenda
Ivan Little

By Ivan Little

Britain's Got Talent finalist Mark McMullan took time out from a hectic round of rehearsals, costume fittings, photoshoots and interviews in London last night… to work on a 5,000-word dissertation for his master's degree in architecture.

"It has to be in for Monday," said father John ahead of tomorrow night's final.

"To say he's been busy is the greatest understatement of the year, but he's been taking a couple of hours every night to complete the dissertation. That's just the way of him."

The Crossgar man (23) laughed off the pressure heaped on him by his university commitments in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and said: "I'm just happy to have reached the final. That was my dream, whether I win it or not. I'm just so honoured to have shown that I was good enough for the last stage of the competition."

His family, including his disabled brother Declan (26), who has been the singer's inspiration, have all stayed on in London for the final.

And John has issued a rallying call for people here to vote for his gifted son, who edged into the showdown after judge Simon Cowell sent the decision to the public vote.

"It was a nerve-racking few minutes waiting for Ant and Dec to announce that Mark had got the second place behind magician Ben Hart," said John.

"I think there were some people who believed Mark was so certain to be a finalist that they didn't think they needed to bother voting for him.

"But there's no such thing as a shoo-in and I just hope that the viewers will not take anything for granted on Sunday night.

"Every vote is vital and Mark wants to do Northern Ireland and us, his family, proud by winning the competition."

John revealed that Declan, who suffers from locked-in syndrome and can't see or speak, had a special message for the family as they went to the Hammersmith Apollo for the live semi-final on Thursday night.

He communicates with his relatives by blinking his eyes to indicate particular letters and words as they talk their way through the alphabet.

His dad said: "On the way to the theatre Declan let us know that he was 'praying for Mark inside his head'. And he was very emotional after Mark made it into the finals. Declan was in tears.

"He can't see what is happening. But he can hear and my wife Brenda and I describe everything that's going on so that he can get a vision in his head of what Mark is doing on the stage.

"Mind you, it was difficult enough for us to follow it all, because the noise around us was deafening.

"In fact, it was all so chaotic that I reckon it's maybe easier to watch the show on television. You can hardly hear what the judges are saying, because you are surrounded by thousands of people."

Mark had a brief but moving reunion with Declan and his family after the show and Britain's Got More Talent went out on air. "It was a very special time in the hotel for us all, especially Declan. But we only had time for a quick cup of tea," said John.

"It was half an hour before we all headed off to our rooms and we got ready Declan ready for bed."

In the semi-final he sang a relatively unknown song, You Will Be Found, from Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen, which is due to open in London soon.

Tomorrow night he'll perform another song that will be new to many people, She Used To Be Mine from another Broadway musical based on the 2007 film Waitress.

Mark had to be up early yesterday to appear on the Good Morning Britain TV show, in which he said his success still hadn't sunk in.

He added: "I don't think it will click until Sunday. But I am overwhelmed by the amount of support I have had."

Mark said Declan had always pushed him on, adding: "If he was able to get on that stage he would do it. So opportunities like this, I just can't pass up."

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