APPEARING on the bill at the Royal Variety Show capped a memorable and life-changing year for Mossley entertainer Jon Courtenay.
It was part of Jon’s prize for winning Britain’s Got Talent as he appeared in the glittering two-hour show at Blackpool’s Opera House alongside some of the biggest names in showbusiness.
And Jon, 47, revealed some of the back-stage moments which made it such a special occasion.
It began when Jon was travelling to Blackpool for rehearsals when he received a surprised message to telephone Jason Manford, the entertainer who compered the show.
Jon said: “I had never worked with Jason before and wondered what he wanted and called him from the car.“He was aware that I had played to a virtual audience in BGT and asked me if I could give him any tips.
“I told him I was only on stage three minutes while he had a two-hour show to do, but he did a fantastic job.”
Jon added he was apprehensive about how he would be received by such high-profile artistes as he was not from their circle.
“Never once did I feel I didn’t fit in. Everybody spoke to me as though they had known me for 100 years,” he added.
Jon explained it was relaxed in jeans and t-shirts at rehearsals when he was made at ease.“Michael Ball told me he had seen me on BGT and loved what I did which was cool,” he said.
“I was also had a conversation with Gary Barlow and Mel C. You have to bear in mind when I was 18 the Spice Girls and Take That were big and meeting them was surreal.
Jon performed a Christmas song he had written for wife Emmah as he has done annually for the last 14 years.
“I have had really nice feedback and comments but, more importantly, Emmah liked it. A happy wife means a happy life,” he mused.
Then at the final curtain the six main acts came forward first to take a bow followed by the remainder.
And Jon found himself in a prime spot on stage in-between Michael Ball, Gary Barlow and Jason Manford.
Jon said the only disappointments were not having an audience at the Royal Variety Show and the absence of Royalty.
“Individual screens were placed in each seat which worked well, though there is never a substitute for a live audience,” he said.“It would have been nice to shake hand with Royalty but, sadly, they were not able to attend this year.”
However, Jon revealed he received a letter from the Royal Variety Show chairman saying it was a shame he had not had the “full experience” and maybe he will be able to make another future appearance.
Jon, who described himself as a jobbing entertainer for the last 30 years, admitted 2020 has changed his life.
He said: “I am lucky to have had one of the better years compared with most. It has been fun.
“We have all had our problems this year but BGT gave me something to focus on when all my work dried up.
“There have been a few times when my wife and family asked whether I should have done BGT this year.
“I think it was a blessing for me and hopefully the exposure it gave me will pay off next year.
“And the Royal Variety Show topped off what has been an amazing year.”
Jon had originally planned a return to Blackpool’s Opera House a fortnight after the Royal Variety Show as that was the first venue for his nationwide tour, most of the dates being next autumn.
“Tickets were selling nicely and sadly we had to cancel and reschedule it for April 10,” he continued.Jon’s tour will mainly take place in September and October which he says will be a “crazy couple of months”.
Before that, though, he has been booked by Butlins who are marketing ‘Jon Courtenay breaks’.
He said: “I started on Warners’ holiday circuit aged 18 but have never appeared at Butlins.
“My first thought was having not done holiday centre was one of ‘Hi-de-Hi’.
“They have built huge, custom built venues that can hold thousands and they get huge acts like Diversity.
“Doing those shows will prepare me for my tour which I am looking forward to as it will be the first time the public will have bought tickets to see me rather than me supporting other acts.”
- Anybody wishing to book Jon can do so through greenfairyproductions.com