LONDON (Reuters) - Street dancers Diversity were the surprise winners of television contest “Britain’s Got Talent” on Saturday, beating favorite Susan Boyle who became an Internet phenomenon and global celebrity after appearing on the show.
The troupe, which includes three sets of brothers and comes from southeast England, won 100,000 pounds ($160,000) and the right to take the stage at the Royal Variety Performance in front of the Queen.
Of the 10 finalists, Diversity were the bookmakers’ sixth favorite to win going into the show, but their acrobatic performance choreographed by 20-year-old Ashley Banjo was described by judge Simon Cowell as “utter perfection.”
“If I had to give marks on that, that is the only performance tonight I would want to give a 10 to,” Cowell said after their performance.
Boyle was runner-up, but so overwhelming were the betting odds in her favor that the result was seen as a major surprise.
The 48-year-old unemployed church volunteer from Scotland, who once joked she had never been kissed and has been described by newspapers as “frumpy” and a “hairy angel,” was the antithesis of what many considered a celebrity to be.
Yet her rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” from “Les Miserables” in April was downloaded on the Internet more than 150 million times and made her a household name.
Film crews camped outside her home in the small town in Scotland where she lives alone with her cat, tabloid reporters followed her every move and she appeared on U.S. chat shows hosted by Oprah Winfrey and Larry King.
The pressure appeared to tell this week, when she threatened to pull out of the show and had an altercation with journalists.
In his blog, judge Piers Morgan wrote: ”Let me tell you now, there is a downside to fame. People start criticizing you, sniping at you, trying to trip you up, belittle you, harass you.
He said Boyle had learning difficulties after being deprived of oxygen at birth, and was nicknamed “Simple Susan” at school.
“I am calling today for everyone to just give her a break.”
Boyle sang I Dreamed a Dream again on Saturday, and while her rousing performance was warmly received, it was not enough.
“You’ve had a weird seven weeks and you had every right to walk away from this and you could have walked away,” Cowell said after she sang. “You can walk away from this, win or lose, with your head held high, Susan. I absolutely adore you.”
Boyle, who praised Diversity after the public telephone vote was announced, said earlier in the show that the whole experience had been ”well worth it.
“The pressure put on me has been overwhelming. I’ve got to put that aside now. When I step on that stage tonight it’s the accumulation of 40 years of dreaming.”
Despite not winning Britain’s Got Talent, Boyle is widely expected to land a lucrative recording contract as a result of her global fame and impressive voice.