Category: TV Entertainment; BBC ONE
In tonight's How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?, hosted by Graham Norton on BBC ONE, not one, but two Marias had their dreams for a leading lady role in a West End musical shattered.
Tonight the seven Maria finalists again auditioned live for the nation and after hearing the feedback from Andrew Lloyd Webber - and the expert panel of David Ian, Zoe Tyler and John Barrowman - the viewers cast their votes.
Helena and Simona were in the first sing-off. Simona forgot the words to the classic Memory and Andrew saved Helena for the third time in the series but begged Simona to audition for Evita.
Simona said after the show: "I sang with all my heart. It was my turn to go tonight and whoever voted for me, I'd like to thank them. To be in a foreign country, to have that support, was amazing."
And on Andrew's comments, she confidently declared: "Oh yes. I'm going to do Evita!"
In the second show, all the girls had prepared to sing Truly Scrumptious with the children from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, but Andrew Lloyd Webber singled out Siobhan to perform it alone, as in his words: "The porcelain doll has become flesh and bone... What a change from the girl who nearly didn't get into the programme - to being a leading contender!"
Again Helena found herself in the bottom two but this time with Leanne. Amazingly, Helena was saved yet again by Andrew.
Backstage, Leanne, who had received constant criticism for her youth, said:
"I knew this was coming. When the standard in this high - I expected it. If my age was an issue they shouldn't have put me here but I'm grateful for the opportunity. It's been amazing. And anyway - I'm glad I'm out because next week it's all about dancing!"
Safe for the semi-final are Connie, Aoife, Abi, Siobhan and Helena - these hopefuls will go on to next week's show where they will again audition for the nation to decide who could be Maria in the The Sound of Music.
Also performing this evening was Lemar with his new single It's Not That Easy.
Notes to Editors
Individual songs this evening were:
Leanne Dobinson (Baby Maria) - Hopelessly Devoted To You (Grease)
Aoife Mulholland (Irish Maria) - You'll Never Walk Alone (Carousel)
Abi Finley (Tomboy Maria) - Summertime (Porgy and Bess)
Siobhan Dillon (Second Chance Maria) - Songbird (Eva Cassidy)
Connie Fisher (Showbiz Maria) - Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes)
Simona Armstrong (Romanian Maria) - It's My Turn (Diana Ross)
Helena Blackman (Entertainer Maria) - Can You Feel The Love Tonight (The Lion King - Elton John)
The group song tonight was Do Re Mi from The Sound of Music, plus the usual So Long, Farewell as they say goodbye to the ousted Marias.