MOSSLEY’S Jon Courtenay described his landslide victory in the ITV hit series Britain’s Got Talent, as “life changing”.
The 47-year-old journeyman entertainer, who only auditioned because it was his dream to appear on stage at The London Palladium, surpassed expectations by winning and capturing the hearts of the nations.
And in the 10-act final Jon, from Shire Croft, collected 35.7 per cent of the public’s votes, more than double the number gained by runners-up Sign Along With Us.
Jon, who sank to his knees in disbelief when the result was announced, admitted he had difficulty holding it together when he learned he had won the £250,000 prize and the chance to appear at the Royal Variety Show.
“I was hyperventilating and for a moment I thought there was a real possibility I would pass out which wouldn’t have been good on live television,” he explained.
When the top three were announced in reverse order, Jon admitted the tension was intense.
“I was stood there thinking second place would be okay as Sign Along With Us were an amazing group of kids and I got to know Jade (Kilduff) well,” he explained.
And the camaraderie of the finalists was something Jon will never forget as he explained: “We all got along well that it did not feel like we were competing against each other, it felt as though we were taking part in a variety show.
“I became friends with comedian Steve Royle, a jobbing pro like myself for the last 30 years, and was pleased he finished in the top three.
“I am just glad I didn’t do a magician’s act as there were five of them in the final, but little Aidan (McCann), the Irish lad impressed me. I was never that confident at 11 years of age.”
Jon admitted his choice of subject, a reprise of 2020, was originally his subject choice for the semi-final before he came up with a different theme.
But it not only won over the public but the judges who were fulsome in their praise.
Alisha Dixon said: “I am crying, you did it again.
“You are a unique person who can make people laugh and cry all in one act which made us feel warm inside.
“It was a brilliant summary of the year, very poignant and reflective and just perfect for the show. I am so thrilled for you.”
Head judge Amanda Holden added: “I didn’t know what you could do because you have had so many amazing moments throughout this journey on the show.
“For me and everybody in the country, 2020 has been an extraordinary year and your act was the exclamation mark.
“You made us feel amazing and positive at the end of a tortuous year so well done.”
Ashley Banjo was impressed how an artist and creative like Jon can take something in the world and use and craft it into a song.
“People will look at this performance, both now and in the future, and it will remind them of the times. For me it was a sign of great artistry and, as a creative, I loved it and, as a performance, it was brilliant. Well done,” he said.
David Walliams said: “You seized the day and summed up the moment just as Ashley and Diversity did on the show.
“It was all about you, and you did it in your own way and did it brilliantly. You must be the favourite.”
Jon, whose parents Ivan and Carolyn Young were variety performers in Barringtons Music Hall, admitted after winning the semi-final it had already been “life-changing”.
As a result of that success, he had already been asked to do a nationwide theatre tour explaining how he had previously only been a support and the public had never specifically bought tickets just to watch him.
Jon, who has worked clubs, pubs, bars and cruise ships, added victory in the final has lifted things to an even higher level: “The tour will still be doing ahead, but will be for longer and at bigger venues.
“We are still finalising dates, but it is likely to the next autumn and be for three or four months.
“Before that, I will be doing one-off shows and have one already one at The Lowry on January 22.
“I have been to watch shows there, but never been on stage.”
Jon admitted winning £250,000 eased the pressure of his family finances.
He said: “The cash was a big help, a game changer, as I had been living off my savings and struggling financially as we are a family of four.
“When I am working, I don’t earn hundreds of thousands of pounds and, like most people, couldn’t afford to take a year off work which I have been forced to do through Covid.”
The days following the final were a whirlwind as he appeared live on This Morning with Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, Lorraine, BBC Breakfast, BBC Look North West, Granada Reports and had newspaper interviews to conduct.
He also met the producer of the Royal Variety Show to discuss his performance at the show which is pencilled in for December.
“To appear at the Royal Variety Show would be the absolute pinnacle of my career. All my heroes have appeared on that show,” he said.
Towards the end of the week, Jon became ill and was confined to home for several days, something he attributes to life becoming “crazy”.
Jon, who has been booked by Google to do some online shows, said the support from within Tameside has been “overwhelming”.
“I have received messages from people who said how proud they were that I had put Mossley on the map,” he said.
Son Nathan, 15, a pupil at Mossley Hollins was frustrated by Jon being unwell as he wanted to visit The Trafford Centre for a new Lego set he had been promised.
Youngest son Alfie, 9, who goes to Buckton Vale Primary, is also a model and loved the attention lavished on him when he went on a photo shoot.
Jon is also hoping his success can help with charitable work he undertakes.
He has received requests in the wake of his success, but already supports Macmillan Nurses and the Alzheimer’s Society as his late father Ivan was struck down by the illness.