I WAS THROWN UNDER THE BUS BY THE BGT PRODUCERS ..
That’s it in a nutshell, if you want more read what happened to me behind the scenes on a BGT show below, but you’ll need a few minutes and a cup of tea.
THIS IS MY STORY.
Honestly, I wasn’t expecting the fiasco that unfolded Thursday night. I just want to relate the events from my perspective … when I was invited to participate in BGT 13 series, I had no illusions that curved balls could potentially come my way, having already had the ‘experience of this with bgt.
My BGT Series 13 journey began in the last two months of 2018. I have been contacted by several researchers encouraging me to apply for an audition for the Series. I submitted several ideas involving a puppet and a few audience members. This was approved, so I subsequently ordered the puppet to be made. Two days before the audition in February 2019, curved ball number one arrived, where I was asked if there was a possibility instead of using the puppet to prepare a routine with 2 masks. At noon on the day of the audition it was confirmed that I was going to do a mask routine and could use David and Amanda which as you know was a big hit and got me 4 yes and very good feedback. and comments from the judges.
2 weeks later came the recording of the day of elimination. All competitors, around 160 acts, who received 3 or 4 yeses are invited to step up to the palladium for the day and find out if they have been selected to qualify for the semi-finals. This means that 35 acts are chosen plus there are the 5 Golden buzzer acts which automatically have a place in the semi-finals.
After it was confirmed that I had qualified for the semi-finals, I was asked to start preparing and submitting ideas for my performance in the semi-finals. My first routine, featuring another puppet and a judge with a mask, was well received by the producers but had to be discussed in the US with the executive producers. This came back with a number 2 curved ball. It was also clear that they did not want me to be described as a traditional ventriloquist and told me they did not want to see any puppets, the number 3 curved ball. , and I would need to use masks for the semi-final and potential final routine.
I was told that my options for wearing masks would be those of the 6 main characters (4 judges and 2 presenters, who were all ready to participate unlike in previous years) and that no masks would be used on audience members. So from that point on I knew I couldn’t use any of my well-established puppet routines, and no masks on audience members, just the 6 main characters in the show. Everything I have done from this point forward would require approval and submitted scripts.
I came up with an idea of Simon with a mask, just standing still and taking on the role of a ventriloquist and David as a model, but both with my masks to make it really funny. They liked the idea and my script was approved.
After meeting a few weeks later with BGT’s brilliant comedy writer, he suggested making Simon the model and David the ventriloquist, and doing a Cancan dance. I loved what we wrote together, although I thought at the time I would be surprised if it was approved, but he knew the producers and it was indeed approved.
From that moment until the semi-final, all the producers and senior managers knew and approved of what I was going to do. They even got the music from Cancan to use on the show.
Thursday, the day of my show, I asked the producers if the judges would attend the dress rehearsal and was told they would not. I then asked if Simon Cowell knew he was going to be used in my act of participation and have a mask put on my face, again they said no he didn’t know but he told them, and the criteria they were working on was that he “liked surprises”. It upset me a bit, as he’s the best executive producer and surely would have asked the question, “Who is Jimmy going to use today?” I had assumed, perhaps naively, that he had been consulted on this matter. By then the day was in full swing and I was under the pressure of all the acts, to go on live television in front of a very enthusiastic audience. I focused on my lines which were NOT TESTED ON THE ROAD, and designed to be used once and only once. I had to trust my immediate producers, in the sense that he would accept it.
You could see on TV that Simon had been coerced on stage by David and was reluctant to sit on the stool and have a mask put on his face.
Looking at it now, I wonder what the producers were thinking. Was I, indeed, THROWN UNDER THE BUS? He was clearly not prepared to accept all of this, and in his subsequent comments he indicated that the producers would indeed be murdered… (his words).
In the media since then (and there have been a lot) the bottom line was that he said he couldn’t do the dance because of an old ski injury. Surely if that was the case, the producers would have known from series 13 that he was unable to dance in any way and I would have been informed weeks before and the scripts would have been altered when it was time to present them. .
Immediately after my performance, I was completely stunned and traumatized by what had just happened to me on LIVE TV. My 5 children and my partner Rachel were in the audience and had just seen what had happened to me. I really felt for them because I just wanted to make a good spot and for them to be proud of me. At this point I was absolutely drained, my 4 minutes on TV was wasted. Yes, my professionalism started and I finished the spot, but I would have preferred to finish it as planned by them and me, and be rejected. I had no illusions that I was anywhere near the top of the artist list that night, and I was prepared for everything … except what happened.
Within 30 minutes of my performance, I was furious with the producers and told them unequivocally that I wanted to leave and that I would not continue for the results, despite people voting for me. They were very sympathetic saying that Simon was an idiot and that I would be okay with it. They even brought in their psychologist to check on me. At the end, I asked Rachel and my 5 kids what to do and that I was ready to go home. They all agreed that I should smile and continue with what I have been doing. I knew I would be rejected, but I went through voting for part of the show. Looking back, I wish I hadn’t.
The next 24 hours were very busy and crazy on social media, newspapers, This Morning on ITV and Twitter, etc. They all had different opinions for me.
In conclusion of this article (if you are still awake dear reader uD83E uDD2A), I could never, in my wildest dreams over the past few weeks, have foreseen what happened to me. I am by nature a positive guy and I see the good in people, rather than being cynical about the world. While it might seem like I’m bitter in the room above, I’m just putting it in my vantage point to get it out of my chest and get on with my life outside of the bgt bubble.
It’s water that goes to the producers of Britain’s Got Talent, as it has generated a lot of publicity like they have before and will continue that way, if they treat the artists, who are not used to the television and media, that way.
I am now of the opinion that any other group of TV show experts now have extensive experience in whatever field they judge, be it singing, dancing and cooking etc.
But this show has someone at the helm, who can’t just lift a foot off the ground let alone a smile, and is ready to give their opinion on any artist who has spent thousands of hours pursuing the craft. Of his choice.
The people I met on the show and worked with, especially the researchers, the VT team, etc.
I have broad shoulders so I can take any comments you might have. But I’m not looking for a lot of that at all. I just hope to feel better after unloading my experience here.
To all my ventriloquist colleagues, I have nothing but admiration for all of you, even though there are not many of us. I would pay dearly to watch any of you. I have in the past and I will in the future. I love being part of our strange community. I look forward to Steve Hewlett’s book later this year or the next ‘VentriloQuest’ ..
Don’t hesitate to share.
Thanks for reading this .. ❤️ Jimmy ..