Millions of viewers are tuning in to the new series of Britain’s Got Talent (BGT) to see Simon Cowell and the judges raise or destroy the hopes of those looking for their big break.
Thousands audition and dozens make it through to the final stages, but, in the end, there can be only one winner.
Last year, it was Ayrshire lad Jai McDowall, who tops the bill at the Variety Special at Inverurie Town Hall this Saturday.
Jai beat 12-year-old favourite Ronan Parke to scoop the top prize in the must-see television show, but he has discovered winning doesn’t guarantee superstardom.
Last month, it was announced that after releasing his debut album, Believe, he had been dropped by his record label.
The news shocked his fans, but he took it in his stride.
“When I was first signed to the record label (Sony), the deal was for only one album, so I tried not to get too excited at the thought of maybe doing more,” said Jai.
“I was a wee bit disappointed when I was told they wouldn’t be doing another album, but I’ve always looked on the bright side of life, and my life is still pretty exciting.
“I have no regrets about going on the show.
“A lot of people go on with expectations of what they think should happen to them, but I’ve never been like that. I’ve always kept my feet on the ground.
“My folks and friends are the same. They’ve never changed the way they treat me and my pals still slag me off whenever they can.”
Before winning, Jai worked as a support worker for Partners for Inclusion, which provides support to individuals with learning and/or mental health disabilities.
“I used to work long hours to buy the things I wanted, like a house and car,” said Jai.
“Since winning, I’m now in a position to say yes to things like joining my friends on holiday this June. Before, I’d have worried about finding the extra money.
“Because of the show, I have a sense of security and am very grateful for the things it has helped me get, like a car and being able to pay off my mortgage.
“My bank manager told me it was the first time he had a 25-year-old man come in and pay off his mortgage.
“But the money is just the tip of the iceberg. BGT has given me great experiences, like performing on the final of China’s Got Talent and The Royal Variety Show.
“I felt like I was dreaming when I was on the Royal Variety Show, because I was surrounded by big names like Tony Bennett and Leona Lewis; I felt like a little fish in a very big pond.”
Although he has no plans for a big tour, Jai’s diary is full as he’s performing in shows across the country, making guest appearances on TV and spending time in the studio writing songs.
“I’m also training hard for the London Marathon and studying quiz books, as I’m going to be a contestant on Celebrity Who Wants To Be a Millionaire,” said Jai.
“I’ve no idea who I’m being paired with, but I’m hoping it’s a genius like Stephen Fry.”
Fans lucky enough to get tickets for the Variety Special, which takes place in Inverurie Town Hall on Saturday, will get to meet this genuinely nice chap and hear him sing a selection of tracks from his album.
The show raises funds for the Meningitis Research Foundation.
Fundraising co-ordinator Michael Jamieson said: “It’s fantastic we’ve been able to secure an artist such as Jai.
“It’s quite a coup for us to persuade him to make the trip to a venue like Inverurie Town Hall, but we must not forget we also have a fantastic line-up of local talent, proving the north-east has talent, too.”
Among those sharing the spotlight with Jai are Inverurie songstress Valerie Chapman, Scottish fiddle champion Emma Simpson, the Variety Special Highland Dancers, The Danscentre performance group, Aberdeen City Boys Choir, teenage accordion maestro Gregor Allen, bothy ballad stalwarts Alan and Eoin Taylor from Alford and comedy impressionist Steve Tandy.
Doors open at 6.30pm and the concert starts at 7pm. While tickets have been selling fast, there may still be some available. Call Michael on 07927 050536 for details.