Wait goes on for young wannabes

IAN CLARKE The BBC has scrapped on-line voting for a competition giving schoolchildren the chance to take part in the Joseph musical after claims of block voting.

IAN CLARKE

The BBC has scrapped on-line voting for a competition giving schoolchildren the chance to take part in the Joseph musical after claims of block voting.

Dozens of youngsters from across East Anglia are among those anxiously waiting to see if they would be chosen from about 900 choirs nationwide.

The schools competition - which coincides with the BBC's Any Dream Will Do show - has been plagued by problems caused by the “unprecedented” demand from people trying to vote.

Following a series of delays, the corporation had been due to announce which choirs had made it into the top 20 and the chance to perform live on prime-time national TV and on a London stage.

But in a statement on the website, the BBC announced the 60-second clips of the children singing would now be judged by an expert panel rather than relying on the on-line voting.

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The youngsters - including pupils from Thetford's Norwich Road Community Primary, Dereham Toftwood Junior, Wisbech Grammar Junior Section, Coltishall Primary, Hillcrest Primary in Downham Market, and Gisleham Middle - will now have to wait longer for the result to be announced.

All entrants are currently being viewed by the same expert panel who selected the Josephs in the regional audition process.

The panel will select 20 finalists and the winner will be chosen by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Howard Goodall to perform on the Any Dream Will Do final on Saturday June 9.

The BBC statement said: “We are sorry to disappoint all those waiting for the results of the Joseph choir search. Although we have taken great care to analyse and verify the results, we believe that on this occasion the process has been compromised by technical difficulties and evidence of block voting, and trust in the integrity of the results may have been damaged.”

“In view of the unique value of the prize and the passionate interest in the competition from schools and so many enthusiastic young children, we have decided on this occasion to set aside the online rating results and rely instead on a panel, in the interests of fairness.”

The statement added: “This is our first experience of running a website competition of this kind which has attracted such an unprecedented response, so viewers can be assured that lessons have been learned and that this will not happen in the future.”

Updates will be given on the website: www.bbc.co.uk/joseph/competition.