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Sunday, 31 August 2014

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Britain's Got Talent judges end Cumbrian man's bid for stardom

A Carlisle man has become the first singing artist to showcase his brush strokes on Britain’s Got Talent.

Neil Arms photo
Neil Arms with his BGT painting

Neil Arms was one of only 48 people to be invited to perform before the new judging panel – comedian Michael McIntyre, former Knightrider and Baywatch star David Hasselhoff and regular judge Amanda Holden.

Neil, 44, of Corby Hill, had beaten off competition from 30,000 people who took part in the first round of producers’ auditions at the SECC in Glasgow back in November.

Thousands flocked to the Glasgow’s Armadillo theatre last Tuesday to watch Neil and his 47 rivals compete for a prized place in the televised semi-finals.

Fifth on stage, Neil’s act was to paint an iconic portrait of a performer in just three minutes while singing one of their most famous songs. He launched into Cry Me A River while creating Michael Bublé with an airbrush on a 4ftx4ft canvas.

Neil, a married father-of-three who recently returned home to Cumbria from a four-year stint living in Majorca, said: “I came up with the idea about a year ago. I’ve been doing art for a lot longer than singing, I’ve made art my career.

“I got through the producers’ auditions at the SECC doing the same thing but I painted Ray Charles. This time, the judges didn’t really see it and buzzed me out, but Ant and Dec did. They let me finish it back stage and it was filmed, Ant even signed the picture for me.

“If it doesn’t go out on Britain’s Got Talent, it may go out on the sister show Britain’s Got More Talent that’s on ITV2. I think I was picked because it was a totally unique act but in the end the judges were quite dismissive really.”

Neil knew the second audition, performed before the celebrity judges, did not go as well as the first.

“The Ray Charles one was much better,” Neil said. “With hindsight I should’ve done that one again. I did that one with a big marker painting pen which was quicker and for the one before the judges I used the airbrush. It’s my preferred method but it is slower and I don’t think it worked as well.

“I don’t know how the audition will come across on TV but I can’t see it humiliating me. I didn’t come away feeling like that at all.

He added: “I was absolutely petrified about going on. I was nervous. I think that came across, and when I was on stage Michael McIntyre did the first buzz and that really affected me. My wife Susie said she could tell straight away.

“The buzzers are really loud, they rock the whole theatre. Despite the result I feel extremely proud but I just don’t think the judges got to grips with what I was doing. It was quite special for me. I’ve never painted on television before.”

Neil hopes the audition will help raise his profile and that of other artists.

He said: “I didn’t there thinking I would win it but to get Neil J Arms on prime-time television would be one hell of an achievement. And I was proud that I was one of the 48 to be asked back to go before the judges out of 30,000 people.”

Neil has been told it is likely the auditions will be screened in April.

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