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Tonight’s a Big Deal for talented singing couple Bello Duo

Health issues won’t stop Co Antrim woman’s bid for glory

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IN HARMONY: Victoria McClements and Conor Taggart

IN HARMONY: Victoria McClements and Conor Taggart

IN HARMONY: Victoria McClements and Conor Taggart

A young Co Antrim woman who suffers from a rare life-threatening disease will join her boyfriend tonight in the final of a TV talent competition.

Victoria McClements (20) — who has Addison’s disease which attacks the renal glands — is half of Bello Duo along with her partner Conor Taggart (24), and they will sing for the €50,000 top prize in Virgin Media Television’s The Big Deal on front of judges including Boy George, JLS star Aston Merrygold and Jedward.

And the harmonious twosome who have already had a number one hit in South Africa are hoping their exposure on the show, filmed in the 3Arena, will help them to further their dreams of musical stardom.

Conor and Victoria first met when they performed at weddings as part of the Singing Waiters group and after becoming romantically involved decided to launch out on their own, releasing an album and a series of videos.

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Conor Taggart and Victoria McClements

Conor Taggart and Victoria McClements

Conor Taggart and Victoria McClements

The couple told viewers in earlier heats of The Big Deal how the coronavirus lockdown last year presented problems — and opportunities – for them.

Because of her underlying health issues Victoria had to isolate and she and Conor moved in with her grandparents John and Elaine Howard.

Addison’s disease which is also called adrenal insufficiency, is an uncommon disorder that occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough of certain hormones like cortisol which helps people to cope with stress.

“We didn’t know how Victoria’s body would have coped with Covid so we decided to isolate together in her grandparents’ house so that we could live in a bubble with them because they weren’t going out to work like our parents.

“But being locked away gave us a chance to really concentrate on our music,” said Conor. “Our only outing at the start of lockdown was when we went out on a Thursday night to sing on the doorstep for our neighbours who were clapping for the NHS carers.”

As their careers developed Bello Duo were initially wary of entering talent competitions but Victoria said: “We thought it would be scary but The Big Deal is very different because it’s like a mix of a talent and a game show.”

After performing for the judges acts have to choose to either take a cash buy out from the host Vogue Williams and leave the show or turn it down in favour of a chance to hear the reactions of Boy George and his colleagues on the panel including JLS’s Aston Merrygold.

In their first performance Bello Duo received five ‘yes’ votes from the judges including Irish singer Lyra who broke down in tears. They also got a standing ovation from the audience and hope to impress them again in tonight’s show with their brand of classical musical theatre and big ballads.

“It’s totally unlike the pop music that we sang at weddings to get people in the party mode,” explained Conor, who added that he and Victoria are planning a second album and a tour of Ireland and the U.

The final tonight goes out on Virgin Media TV at 7pm and though it isn’t widely available in Northern Ireland the show will be available on Bello Duo’s website immediately afterwards.

Newspaper reports last week said that viewing figures for The Big Deal have been disappointing, but Conor and Victoria have received nearly a million hits for their performances on YouTube. And it was their popularity on the social media platform that sent Bello Duo to dizzying heights in South Africa.

“Our rendition of Danny Boy on our album Out of the Darkness somehow struck a chord over there and it reached number one in the country’s vocal charts,” revealed Conor.


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