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Saturday, 23 August 2014

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Success of Britain's Got Talent Collabro sensation Matthew Pagan surprising no-one who knew him

Talent spotters say they knew from the first time they saw him that Carlisle singer Matthew Pagan could be a star after he and his band became overnight TV sensations.

Related: Carlisle singer's group Collabro are Britain's Got Talent favourites

Matthew, 20, a former shop worker, watched with his family in the city as the group he is in, Collabro, became one of the big hits of prime time show Britain’s Got Talent on Saturday.

Only the night before he was among more than 30 former members of Cumbrian theatre school, StagedRight, who performed at The Sands Centre in Carlisle to celebrate the company’s 10th anniversary.

Within minutes of Collabro’s appearance on the show bookmakers Coral was already offering odds of 5-1 on them being crowned 2014 champions.

Other bookies were offering odds as short as 11-2 on the five-piece boyband winning.

Matthew, who is from the city’s St Ann’s area, Edentown, has spoken of how incredible the experience was and how much support he has had from people in Carlisle.

David McNeill, principal of StagedRight, said it was fantastic for the theatre school that Matthew performed for them “the night before he became famous”.

He said Matthew was spotted in a school production of Grease when he was about 15 and became involved with StagedRight.

“He was so shy at first,” said David. “But he’s always had talent, he’s a talented young man.”

He performed in shows put on by the theatre school including productions of Me and My Girl and West Side Story.

David added: “It’s a privilege to have helped pull out the talent he had and showcase him.

“He’s stayed in touch with us. He’s a very loyal person to StagedRight and he’s a very down-to-earth guy.

“We’re proud that he’s representing us, the city, and we are absolutely proud of him.”

Phil McKay, boss of Carlisle-based Lakeside Casting Agency, was another who saw the star potential in Matthew.

Phil said: “A friend introduced him to me. I invited him over and said: ‘Let me hear you sing’. I was gobsmacked. I thought: ‘Wow’.

“I couldn’t fault his singing at all. It was pitch perfect.”

Phil landed Matthew a spot singing at Stanwix Park Holiday Centre in Silloth, where he belted out swing favourites by stars such as Frank Sinatra.

“He got suited and booted and brought the house down,” said Phil.

Bookings in pubs and clubs were also arranged.

Other gigs including performing at a community concert staged by the News & Star. Matthew also appeared in a competition, We’ve Got Talent, the finals of which were held at the Sands Centre.

Matthew headed off to Spain last year to sing for holidaymakers as part of a Thomson Gold entertainment programme.

After returning from Spain, Matthew played Prince Charming in The Sands Centre pantomime Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Watch Collabro's BGT audition performance. Article continues below...


Away from music, Matthew has also been involved in the local football scene in Carlisle, playing through the age groups at Stanwix Football Club, where his dad, Tony, is also involved.

Nigel Harrison, a coach at the club, said: “He’s a great lad and a good footballer.

“He’s always been a talent, he was a talent when he was eight-years-old, and now he’s showing his talent away from football.”

Matthew and his family gathered at home on Saturday to watch the show as Collabro took to the stage in front of a judging panel featuring star spotter Simon Cowell.

When the group came onto the stage they told the judges, also including comedian David Walliams, TV star Amanda Holden and singer Alesha, they had been together for a month.

Simon Cowell rolled his eyes at this and Alesha asked them what made them think that, after a month, they were good enough to win the show.

But the group, introduced so far only by their first names of Richard, Michael, Matt, Thomas and Jamie, won them over with a performance of Stars from the musical Les Miserables.

Afterwards, Amanda Holden said: “Oh my God, you reduced me to tears. I could just burst with pride for you because that was brilliant.”

Simon Cowell said: “You know what, when the five of you came out I thought: ‘Here we go again, another boyband, this is going to be awful’. But it was an absolutely brilliant audition. Brilliant.”

David Walliams said it was a “faultless performance” and a “great song”. The group received a standing ovation from the audience and the panel.

Matthew’s dad, Tony, a maintenance fitter at Carlisle’s Pirelli factory, described how proud the family were of the budding star, a former pupil at St Aidan’s School.

Matthew, who used to work at the Andersons home fittings showroom in Denton Holme, said: “For us it was an incredible feeling being on the stage in the first place.

“To get a standing ovation from the audience and the judges was unbelievable.”

Matthew added he was inundated with messages on social media after the show. “I’ve had so much support from my home city it’s been incredible,” he said.

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