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Kerry McLean: Whenever I sit down to watch one of those TV talent shows, I know to keep the tissues handy

Marc Spellman impresses the Britain’s Got Talent judges
Marc Spellman impresses the Britain’s Got Talent judges

By Kerry McLean

Some people chart the passing of the year and progression through the seasons by the little signposts nature hangs out for us to see. The cherry blossoms are in abundance? It's spring. Blackberries darkened and hanging heavy on their bushes? Autumn has arrived.

I'm afraid my own awareness of the changing seasons is, at times, less based on examining mother nature's bounty and more on the weekly TV guide. For me, my calendar is marked out by reoccurring TV series.

For instance, I know spring with all its bouncing lambs and baby birds is on the horizon when Jon Torode and Greg Wallace appear on the box for another run of Masterchef.

It's undoubtedly time to put away the sunscreen and sunhats when The Apprentice kicks off in the corner of our living rooms, hosted, as ever, by Sir Alan Sugar, the human equivalent of a conker - they both appear at the end of September and are equally hard and unyielding.

And while it may not feel like it when you step outside, wrapped in a dozen layers to fight off the wind and rain, I can confirm that summer is just around the corner.

The signifier for this? The reappearance of Britain's Got Talent on my telly last weekend.

Now, I have no shame in confessing that I'm a total sap and have been known to cry at the drop of a hat. Even the mere sight of those cute puppies in that toilet roll commercial have caused my tear ducts to spring into action.

So, I knew when I sat down with the kids to watch the show that I'd need to keep the tissues handy. I had no expectations of emerging dry-eyed by the end of the first episode and, boy, was I right to keep my hopes in check.

There was the stunning performance of 10-year-old Calum Courtney, who gave us a flawless rendition of Michael Jackson's Who's Loving You and then promptly broke down on the stage. As a mummy of a 10-year-old boy, my heart went out to him, my teardrops bouncing off the remote.

And who guessed we'd all be in floods at a magic act? Marc Spellman carried out a jaw-dropping series of tricks, explained that for him true magic was his wife overcoming cancer and his two-year-old daughter being born after they endured IVF. I could barely see the TV through the tears by the time his act was over.

And the most amazing, spellbinding magic he performed? Squeezing emotion out of Simon Cowell. Even TV's Mister Nasty was moved by this man and his backstory.

I have absolutely no idea how the magician can follow that performance but I hope it's the start of a stellar career.

He wouldn't be the first to find fame thanks to talent competition. Stars like Lenny Henry, Victoria Wood, Little Mix and One Direction have all trod that well-worn path.

Even Beyonce attempted to launch her singing career on one of these shows, Star Search, in America back in 1993. She and her pals were just 12 years old when they appeared as Girl's Tyme.

The judges unanimously voted to drop the band who would go on to change their name to Destiny's Child and have massive, global success. I can only assume that when those judges watch Beyonce now, one of the world's biggest popstars, they must cringe a little at letting her slip through their fingers.

I know lots of people aren't keen on these shows, my husband included. He doesn't like watching the hopes of people being raised and quickly dashed, all at the whim of someone with a big red button and in the name of entertainment. I get that, I really do.

But maybe it's because I have no discernible talent myself that I'm in awe of those who're brave enough to give it ago, those who've practised until they're note perfect, or until their sleight of hand has to be seen to be believed.

And at a time when so many programmes leave you heavy of heart, it's nice to have an escape into the happy hopes and dreams of others.

Roll on tonight's show!

Belfast Telegraph


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