What they did next: we look back at East Anglia’s BGT success stories and find out what they’re doing now.
- Credit: Rosanna Elliott
Norfolk and Suffolk entertainers have a history of being big hits on Britain's Got Talent – as we prepare for a new series this weekend, we look at some of the region's BGT success stories from Ronan Parke to Sam Kelly, Tim and Jack Goodacre to Matt Edwards, Ben Langley to Connie Lamb.
The nation's favourite TV talent show is back this weekend for a fun-filled 13th series – but will Norfolk and Suffolk be as well represented as they have been in previous years?
Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams return as judges while the nation's favourite presenting duo, Ant and Dec, are back as hosts as the search for the most exciting talent around gets under way – and hopefully, the region will be as well represented as normal.
Once again, all the judges and Ant and Dec will have the chance to put one contestant straight through to the live semi-finals as their Golden Buzzer act, taking them one step closer to achieving their dream of being crowned the BGT winner - securing a prize of £250,000 and the opportunity to perform at the Royal Variety Performance.
In the past, a host of East Anglian contestants have impressed the BGT judges, from Norfolk comedian Ben Langley to Suffolk magician Matt Edwards, Norfolk father-and-son duo Tim and Jack Goodacre to Haverhill Britney Spears tribute act Lorna Bliss. We take a look back at some of the region's BGT success stories.
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Ronan Parke: Ronan Parke, who came runner-up in the fifth series of Britain's Got Talent, rose to fame on the ITV show in 2011 aged only 12 – when he performed Feeling Good for his audition, the 2,500-strong audience and judges Amanda Holden, Michael McIntyre, David Hasselhoff and Louis Walsh gave him a standing ovation. His self-titled debut album was released shortly after in the UK, followed by EPs and various singles between 2012 and 2013. In 2014 he announced he would be leaving his record label (AD Records) and released his debut original album Found My Way on November 9 last year, a collection of 'gender neutral' songs. For more information, visit www.ronanparke.com.
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Lorna Bliss: She was rejected by Britain's Got Talent's judges before finishing her Britney Spears act in 2011 and Lorna Bliss also managed to leave Amanda Holden with an allergic reaction after kissing her. From Haverhill in Suffolk, Lorna controversially returned to the live shows despite being told 'no' by three judges. In her semi-final performance, she performed 'I'm a Slave 4 U', beginning the performance in a cage with a snake around her neck. She then switched to 'Oops, I Did It Again', during which Michael, Simon and David buzzed the act. She auditioned for the 2012 series of BGT but didn't make it past the audition stage. Her Facebook page was last updated in January 2016.
Sam Kelly: Norfolk-raised Sam strummed his way to the final of BGT in 2012, picking up the most public votes in his semi-final heat with a stripped-back version of the Goo Goo Dolls' it, Iris. Although failing to make the top three in the live final with his performance of Rascal Flatts' Bless This Broken Road, the show did reward Sam with a management deal, floods of offers for personal appearances and a huge profile boost. Now based in Bristol, Sam is an award-winning BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winning singer, song-writer, producer and multi-instrumentalist, find out more at www.samkelly.org.
Tim and Jack Goodacre: The father and son duo from Eccles near Attleborough made it to the BGT final in 2018 after being given the golden buzzer by judge Simon Cowell which put them straight through to the live shows. They performed another song they had written themselves, Big Wide World, in the semi-final and were voted in the top three most popular acts by the public. The pair, who have busked on Norwich streets, will be touring the UK this summer, including a performance at The Nick Rayns LCT at UEA on June 8. For more information, visit www.jackandtimmusic.com.
Ben Langley: Ben, from Shrimpling near Diss, even had Simon Cowell in stitches in 2018 with his madcap BGT audition: 'Ben Langley, you are a very funny man,' the head judge said. The former Norwich pantomime star was loved by the audience and viewers but was given a no from the judges at the second stage. He will be appearing at venues across the UK with his show before joining Great Yarmouth Hippodrome Circus for this year's Christmas Spectacular from December 7 to January 3 www.benlangley.co.uk.
Matt Edwards: Comedy magician Matt from Stowmarket was runner-up to eight-year-old magician Izzy Simpson in the second semi-final of the ITV talent show in 2017. Presenters Ant and Dec who gave Matt their Golden Buzzer during the pre-recorded auditions gushed: 'We could not be more proud of you.' Matt won the attention of the show's female judges during his wacky act, with Alesha Dixon comparing him to a young Jim Carrey and Amanda Holden saying he looked more like singer Robbie Williams. Simon Cowell suggested he could be the kind of talent snatched to host a game show – and all agreed they would like to have seen him get more time because he had had to cram so much into his act. Matt remains in huge demand, find out more here: www.mattedwards.co.uk
Connie Lamb: Called back to perform at BGT in 2016 after her performance of three songs including I'm Here from the musical The Color Purple, Connie, from Woodbridge, caught the attention of judges in The Voice on ITV with her cover of Demi Lovato's Skyscraper, with both Sir Tom Jones and Olly Murs hitting their buzzers. Olly said: 'I've been waiting for people to come along to make me stop and press this button. You did, that was absolutely amazing. You're current, young and I think you've got huge potential to go on and be a star.' She is currently studying at the renowned Brit School.
Carys Thomas: Carys took part in Britain's Got Talent as an eight-year-old and got through to the third round and in 2016, at age 11, the Sudbury singer reached the second round of the TV talent show, just missing out on a spot on TV. Carys also recently got through to the second round of The Voice Kids.