Diversity "gobsmacked" by UK TV talent show win

Sun May 31, 2009 8:37am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Street dance troupe Diversity said on Sunday it was still in shock after beating runaway favorite and Internet sensation Susan Boyle in the final of the popular "Britain's Got Talent" television contest.

Boyle, 48, had been heavily backed to beat nine other finalists late on Saturday after clips of her first appearance on the show in April were downloaded nearly 200 million times and she was hailed the world over as a superstar.

The Scottish spinster who joked she had never been kissed and who challenged people's notion of what a celebrity should be came second behind Diversity in a final which attracted a peak audience of 19.2 million people in Britain.

Although the average viewing figure will be lower, at its peak the ITV show commanded 72 percent of the total television audience.

Nearly four million people phoned in to choose a winner, and Diversity won 24.9 percent of the vote ahead of Boyle's 20.2 percent. Saxophonist Julian Smith was third with 16.4 percent.

The 11 dancers, led and choreographed by 20-year-old Ashley Banjo, had been the bookmakers' sixth favorite to win before the show, and said on Sunday the result was still sinking in.

"I think I fell over," said Banjo. Diversity comprises three sets of brothers and friends aged between 13 and 25.

"I had my speech ready, you know, 'Well done Susan'," he told a news conference.   Continued...

<p>Winners of British television contest "Britain's Got Talent", Diversity, pose for photographers at a news conference in London May 31, 2009. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor</p>