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Talent show top five

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James McLaren James McLaren | 08:00 UK time, Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Five years ago this weekend, on 17 June 2007, Welsh singer Paul Potts won the first series of Britain's Got Talent (BGT). His performance of Nessun Dorma had gained him a standing ovation in the studio, agog responses from the judges, and almost 100 million views on YouTube.

Here we take a look at his career, and four others, as we run down the top five Welsh talent show 'graduates'.

Paul Potts

From his first televised audition on BGT as an unknown singer and phone salesman, Paul Potts from Port Talbot was a star. Much like Susan Boyle two years later, it was the unexpected nature of his performance that was the key.

Paul Potts

Paul Potts

We caught up with Paul this week. He said: "Performing on Britain's Got Talent was a huge catalyst for me. I had entered thinking it would be the very last time I would sing. It turned into being a huge crossroads in my life. It was a genuine turning point.

"I'd never imagined I could spend the next five years (and counting) touring the world, and it all comes back to the first series of BGT. Nobody, especially me, knew what would happen at the end of that week in June 2007. But winning helped start a wonderful career doing what I love in so many beautiful parts of the world. To others contemplating taking the leap on to a talent show I'd say: enjoy the experience, don't assume anything as life always has a way of taking you by surprise."

His win set him up for a successful international singing career with three studio albums including his début, One Chance, which went to number one in the UK, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Canada, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand and Germany.

He still performs all over the world, and judging by his Twitter feed, he's very much part of the jetset.

Mary Hopkin

Pontardawe's Hopkin had already released some Welsh-language records when she auditioned for ITV's talent show Opportunity Knocks in Cardiff in 1968. She made it through to the televised show, and won it for 10 consecutive weeks with the song Turn Turn Turn.

Mary Hopkin

Mary Hopkin

Following her winning streak on the show, model Twiggy drew Paul McCartney's attention to the Welsh singer. As a result, she became one of the first artists to sign to The Beatles' Apple label.

She went to number one with the same year's Those Were The Days, and number two with Goodbye (1969) and Knock Knock Who's There? (1970).

Although she superficially retired from the industry in the 1970s to raise a family, she continued to record, and appeared as a guest vocalist on many of the records her producer husband, Tony Visconti, was working on. These include David Bowie, Bert Jansch and even Thin Lizzy. She remains a globally-recognised name to this day.


She doesn't like to publicise it much these days, but Duffy (now with 8m album sales) started her public singing career with an appearance on S4C's Welsh-language singing competition Wawffactor.

It seems scarcely believable now, after Grammys and Brits, but she didn't win the 2004 series. Instead, she came runner-up to Lisa Pedrick.



Unfortunately for Duffy, her Wawffactor experience was not a pleasant one: "I signed my life away to the programme and, when I got there, it was completely different from what they had explained. I did it. I didn't want to but I kept getting through.

"It was the unhappiest time in my life... I was a mess."

It didn't matter though; in late 2004 she hooked up with Richard Parfitt of 60ft Dolls and Catatonia's Owen Powell, began writing with Bernard Butler and signed to Rough Trade. The rest, as they say, is history.

Bryn Terfel

Moving into the serious world of classical music now, Bryn Terfel was the winner of a prestigious prize at the 1989 Cardiff Singer of the World competition.

He came second overall in the competition, but won the Lieder Prize.

Here he is, aged 24, receiving the prize.

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This win brought him wider recognition and the young bass-baritone began a stellar career which took him to the top of the classical charts and some of the top operatic roles across the world.

Bonnie Tyler

Our last talent show 'graduate' is Skewen's Bonnie Tyler. In 1970, aged 19, she entered a talent show at a local rugby club. She sang Mary Hopkin's Those Were The Days. Famously, she came second, winning the sum of £1 (about £13 in today's money).

While this wasn't a Paul Potts-style televised, spectacular coming-of-age, it did encourage her to do more. She became the singer for Bobbie Wayne And The Dixies, then formed a band named Imagination. Local gigging was her life until 1975 when she was seen by Swansea man Roger Bell who was working for Valley Music, owned by Tom Jones and Gordon Mills.

Bonnie Tyler

Bonnie Tyler

Now her manager, Roger Bell says: "I went to see another performer at the Townsman Club but saw this girl. I brought her to London and she did a demo, but it didn't work out. Then, two years later, Ronnie Scott - the songwriter, not the jazz performer! - who I was working with, asked me to get 'that Welsh singer' back down again as he had a song for her.

"That song was Lost In France."

The single sold a million copies worldwide, and went to number nine in the UK. It set her career in motion - a career that would see her getting an international number one with Total Eclipse Of The Heart.

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