Opinion: BGT Winner Jon Courtenay Was Exactly What We Needed Right Now

Image: Chris McKenna / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

On Saturday night, I tuned in for the last part of Britain’s Got Talent for this year. Admittedly, I’m not a a huge fan of the show, but I will happily sit down to the semi-finals and I will happily cast my five votes for who I want to win the show.

I had to be honest, time was ticking and nobody had won me over.

Steve Royle was funny, but was he the best act? I wasn’t sure. He was a great clown, but hardly a winning performance overall.

Aaron and Jasmine were a phenomenal dance act, but it was just that, a dance act. What was it that I was looking for, exactly? Even I didn’t really know. All I knew was that so far, nothing had really grabbed my attention. For me, nothing had been worth that £250,000.

Then we had Nabil Abdulrashid. Nabil threw in absolutely everything that he had do to whip up a furore and appeal to the emotions of the Britain’s Got Talent audience. From the moment that he walked onto the stage, Nabil raised a fist, wore a raised fist on his jacket, he made all kinds of jokes against racist people and people who don’t support the Black Lives Matter movement, he wore an “Unapologetically Black” t-shirt then made a fist again before he left. I fully understand the significance of the movement, but it would have been nice to see something else in Nabil’s jokes and it seems that a number of other people felt the same, too.

“He’ll win now, you watch. He’s appealed to the emotions of the audience. Nobody else will get a looking” I sighed. At this point, I was almost certain that Nabil would win it.

The next to last performance was from Sign Along With Us. I’ve written about this all singing, all dancing, all singing group before, but again, I had my reservations. Since being introduced to ‘inspiration porn’ by my good friend Simone at The Wheelchair Teen, it is increasingly something that I am even more aware of, and even more keen to avoid. Sign Along With Us are great, but if you take out the disability, they are just another young person’s singing choir and we would only be letting them win because of their disabilities. Were they good? Yes, absolutely, but could they win it? I was doubtful.

So what, exactly, was I looking for?

Enter Jon Courtenay.

Jon.. Jon was what I needed. Jon was what we needed, the British people, regardless of your political views or the colour of your skin. Jon spoke to us, he spoke of the things we all miss and the things we all need right now in the midst of this pandemic: family, hope and unity.

It takes a lot to make me cry usually, but Jon managed it. Jon appealed to my worn out soul, the soul that is so very tired from lockdowns and restrictions. As I counted the number of toilet rolls left on the stand and fretted over sourcing some more with a possible second lockdown looming, Jon appealed to those very feelings inside me. Where I’d lost hope, Jon gave me hope again as he fired a face mask off stage. It was passionate and patriotic, John’s ‘Keep Calm & Carry On’ message was exactly what Britain needed, and so I had no qualms in voting for him.

And so it seems, nor did anyone else.

In fact, in a combined total of 10 votes between 2 mobile phones, Jon had bagged almost half of them. There was no collusion and no influencing one another, Mr Wolfie and I both voted for who we wanted to vote for and then discussed our decisions afterwards. They were:

Jon Courtenay: 4 votes

Sign Along With Us: 3 votes

James & Dylan Piper: 2 votes

Magical Bones (though I thought he should stick to dance, not magic!) – 1 vote

So after a magical, musical performance which guest starred Matt Lucas, we settled down to find out who had won.

First announced in the top three to win was Sign Along With Us, followed by Jon Courtenay with Steve Royle nabbing the last spot. As his was the final light to be turned red, Nabil Abdulrashid applauded softly and looked to be on the verge of tears. That, for me, was quite a shocker. In light of all of the controversy surrounding Britain’s Got Talent and Black Lives Matter, I fully expected him to win.

With more than a third of the public votes (35%), Jon Courtenay took home the £250, 000. Sign Along With Us were second. I hope that if nothing else, now is there great break to show that they too can do something and that they too have potential. Britain’s Got Talent, I hope, will act as their springboard, and even if they didn’t take home the top prize, I hope that their performances at least open up new avenues for them.

This year’s series has been rife with controversy and in the end, I think the British public have collectively (and perhaps unintentionally) made their voices heard. This year’s Britain’s Got Talent series tanked in the ratings with thousands of Brits boycotting the show due to political bias and the absence of Simon Cowell. Like it or not, the British people really do believe that all lives matter and just as Jon’s overwhelming popularity showed, the British people also believe that together, we can and will get through this pandemic.

This has been Britain, re-united once more.

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