Daily Mail, 4th June 2011
Britain's Got Talent pianist, 7, given boot two days before he was due to travel to London for next round
After receiving a standing ovation from the judges, seven-year-old pianist Curtis Elton believed he had sailed into the next round of Britain’s Got Talent.
But two days before he was due to travel to London – with his £200 custom-made tux already packed – he was told he had not made the cut.
Footage of his grandmother wiping away a tear at his performance was then used to accompany film of a different child’s act.
Harsh reality: Curtis, a precocious talent - he is already at grade 8 on the piano - was turned away from ITV show, Britain's Got Talent despite gaining three yes votes during auditions
Curtis, who can perform Grade Eight songs on the piano and has been playing since he was four, was told by Louis Walsh at a heat in London that he was ‘amazing’ and that he was ‘really going somewhere’.
Amanda Holden said she ‘loved’ his performance and Michael McIntyre joked that his five-year-old son could barely speak, let alone play a complex piece of jazz on a keyboard. The producers told his mother to arrange a children’s licence from the council so he could perform and encouraged her to make sure he had enough new outfits and fresh songs for his next performance.
Missed out: Curtis, pictured with mum Hayley, was toldby Louis Walsh at the auditions that he was 'really going somewhere'
But two months later, and two days before the show in which the semi-finalists were announced, his mother was told that the judges had ‘decided that it was three nos’ for Curtis.
Hayley Elton, 39, a professional concert pianist, said: ‘We were all devastated for him. He had been given permission to have the day off school and had told all his friends. They made me jump through hoops and we didn’t realise his place could be withdrawn at any time. It was a very cruel way to treat a seven-year-old boy.’
A young dance troupe were also left heartbroken after BGT’s producers dropped them from the show – even after they too scored three ‘yes’ votes from the judges.
Freeman Dance, made up of 70 children aged seven to 11, received rapturous applause during their November audition in Birmingham. Their energetic performance prompted a glowing response from judges, including David Hasselhoff, and they believed they would be appearing at the live semi-finals in front of Simon Cowell,
But their dreams were shattered when the show’s producers informed them weeks later that they had been kicked off the show. The parents claimed that the judges often put too many contestants through, meaning some acts have to be cut ahead of the semi-finals.
But viewers know nothing about this caveat – and those attending the auditions are left believing that acts they have cheered on and supported have made it through to the next round.
Chris Rooney, whose daughter Gabrielle performs with the group, said: ‘Children should not be treated like this. We have all re-arranged holidays and spent money – as much as £80 each on costumes because we thought they were through.’
A spokesman for the show said they make it clear that the acts who survive the first round have not secured a place in the semi-finals and that there was a ‘deliberation round’ where judges re-evaluated who they sent through.
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