Britain's Got Talent winner comedy-pianist Jon Courtenay wants to spread some joy at this year's Royal Variety Performance…
Comedy pianist Jon Courtenay won the heart of the nation and made Britain’s Got Talent history back in October when he became the first Golden Buzzer act to win the ITV juggernaut.
After being crowned the champion of series 14, Jon walked away with a £250,000 prize plus a coveted place on the bill of the Royal Variety Performance, which airs on ITV tonight.
Comedian and actor Jason Manford hosts the event from Blackpool’s Opera House Theatre where a star-studded line-up including Michael Ball, Gary Barlow and Sheridan Smith will perform for a virtual audience watching at home.
Having been on the circuit for some 30 years now, Jon has always held a special place in his heart for the Royal Variety Performance.
Here, in an exclusive interview, dad-of-two Jon, 47, tells TV Times why he’s finally living his dream…
How would you describe your experience on Britain’s Got Talent?
“Well, from getting Ant and Dec’s Golden Buzzer at the auditions, being picked by the judges in the semi-finals, then winning, it doesn’t get much better than that really. I’ve had a passion for entertaining people since I was six years old, and I don’t normally get nervous on stage at all. But, I’ll admit, performing at the BGT final, there were a lot more nerves than usual. Just little old me sat on that stage at the piano, with no live audience, a giant LED wall and the four judges watching was quite surreal. I certainly had time to get stage fright!”
Did you ever think you could win?
“I had friends phoning me up beforehand telling me they’d put bets on me to win, which was pressure I didn’t need. On the night, I was quite prepared to come second as children’s choir Sign Along With Us were amazing. The wait for the result is only about six seconds but, when you’re stood up on that stage, it feels like six days! When I heard my name, I just fell to my knees, I was completely overwhelmed. And to then hear I was the first Golden Buzzer ever to win BGT was unbelievable. The most frustrating thing was not being able to hug Ant and Dec!
How are you feeling about performing at Royal Variety?
“I suppose BGT is the new variety show but the actual Royal Variety holds so much history for me. I was an only child growing up and my dad was 18 years older than my mum; it was like we had three generations in the house, so there wasn’t a lot of television or comedy that we all agreed on. But Royal Variety was something we could all sit together and watch. I know it’s going to be emotional. I’ve finished writing the song now and I’m really excited to perform it. I’ve already got my costume, which is very showbiz and very Royal Variety. There might even be some sequins!”
What makes your song perfect for Royal Variety? Why do you think your act resonates with people?
“BGT judge David Williams said to me: ‘You write about the here and now and nobody else does that.’ As a comedian and songwriter, I’m always trying to tap into people’s consciousness; something everybody can relate to. So while I won’t make light of the situation we’ve faced this year, which is affecting people so horrendously, I wanted to write a song about looking forward and being happy. I’ve been sent really touching messages from people who’ve said: ‘Your songs have really helped me’. It’s really humbled me to realise my songs have that sort of power.”
So what’s life been like for you since winning Britain’s Got Talent? And what’s the ultimate dream?
“Well, I’ve got my little studio set up at home with my green screen and my cameras, so I’ve done a few performances. I can do a show in my slippers and be back in my lounge five minutes later – but nothing takes the place of a live audience! I’m really looking forward to taking my one-man show on tour next year, actually getting out there and meeting the people who voted for me and helped me win BGT. Beyond that, I’d love to take my show to Vegas! I’m really hoping that being on BGT opens some other doors for me – but all I’ve ever wanted to do is entertain people and make them laugh. I’ll definitely keep doing that.”
The Royal Variety Performance 2020 airs on Tuesday December 8 at 8pm on ITV.