Britain's Got Talent winner keen on pursuing magic career
Britain's Got Talent winner and Household Cavalry bandsman Richard Jones is hoping the army will be "flexible" enough to let him pursue his magic career.
Illusionist Jones triumphed in the grand final on Saturday, using his magic act to tell the story of Second World War veteran and former prisoner of war Fergus Anckorn. As a surprise, the 97-year-old himself then appeared on stage.
On whether he could combine his career as a magician and as a soldier, Jones, who is heading back to work on Wednesday, said he was optimistic.
He told the Press Association: "The army nowadays is very flexible.
"I'm aware that there's a rugby player, for example, who plays full-time for a professional rugby team, but he's also part of the army as well, and they give him a lot of time to pursue that."
Setting a precedent, lance corporal Semesa Rokoduguni combines his rugby union career with his position as a soldier in the British Army.
Jones said: " I'm expecting a talk with the army at some point, just to see if they're happy for me to keep going the way I am, because I love my job."
He said the army had been right behind him throughout his Britain's Got Talent journey, with his own band even joining him on stage for the final performance.
He had to struggle to keep from crying as the result was announced - because he was wearing uniform as part of the performance.
"I knew it would be emotional because obviously I've got my own band, I've got Fergus and it's very patriotic, and I was really emotional myself," he said.
"E specially because I was in uniform. You don't cry in uniform, it's against Queen's regulations."
Jones's winning performance was steeped in patriotism and focused on Mr Anckorn's experience as a prisoner of war in Japan for almost four years.
Mr Anckorn is also a magician and is the longest-serving member of the Magic Circle. He performed magic tricks for the guards as a way of getting food for himself and his fellow prisoners.
To the strains of I Vow To Thee My Country, Jones enlisted judge Amanda Holden to sign a playing card which he tore and burnt. The card was later revealed to be intact.
Mr Anckorn himself then appeared on stage.
"What a respectful, appropriate time to do something like that. Amazing. I salute you Fergus, thank you for everything you've done," said Simon Cowell.
Jones said he had first met the veteran when he joined the Magic Circle three years ago and the two bonded over their stories about the army.
He said: "W hen I first applied for Britain's Got Talent, I was actually sitting with Fergus a few days later and I said to him, 'If I ever get through to the final it would be great to have you on, and we could do it together' - not actually expecting that that would actually happen."
The two kept in touch as Jones got closer and closer to the final.
"Eventually last week when I spoke to him, I said: 'Fergus, I think this is actually going to happen, we're actually going to do it'," Jones said.
This year's Britain's Got Talent final attracted the lowest audience in the show's 10-year history.
ITV said Jones' triumph pulled in a peak audience of 10.5 million viewers and a 48% share of TV viewing at around 9.55pm.
Ratings figures showed the two-and-a-half-hour broadcast averaged 8,502,000 viewers across the show, equivalent to a 42.4% share of viewing.
Although Britain's Got Talent was still the most watched Saturday night programme by nearly six million viewers, the audience figures were down by around three million on 2015.