They arrived in their droves – some armed with tents and sleeping bags – for the chance to appear on TV talent show X Factor.
Up to 5,000 pop wannabes swarmed into Birmingham as the city’s International Convention Centre was turned into the theatre of dreams at the weekend.
A queue of budding stars spilled down Broad Street and more arrived by the minute over four hours before the indoor auditions started inside 20 portable booths set up to give everybody a chance to impress at the beginning of a long road that could end with a person becoming the nation’s next singing sensation.
The performance in front of producers of the show proved to be a fleeting brush with fame for most but a fortunate few won through three rounds held on Saturday and yesterday and will appear in front of the celebrity judges who did not attend the preliminary auditions.
The fans did see the programme’s popular presenter Dermot O’Leary who helped keep spirits up. He said: “Hopefully we will find the winner here.”
Sadly it will not be Bekkii Jones, a Wolverhampton College student of, The Avenue, in Darlaston despite her being first in line for the auditions after arriving at midnight with boyfriend Jack Meade.
The couple, both aged 18, camped overnight in Centenary Square and waited more than 12 hours for her shot at the big time. Moments later it was all over.
The former St Thomas More School pupil said later: “I feel very disappointed because the audition took less than 60 seconds. I was singing Alicia Keys Fallin but I hardly started when they interrupted and said ‘unfortunately it’s a no’. You are not allowed to ask why.
“It was a real let-down after I had gone to so much trouble. I bought a tent specially because I was determined to be first in the queue but that was not the best preparation because I got hardly any sleep. I thought this was my big chance. I don’t want to be in the classroom. I want to be on the big stage.
“I had watched the show for years and it just felt that this was the right time to have a go. It didn’t feel real until I actually got to the audition and then the nerves set in and the whole atmosphere changed. I did not enjoy it.” Shifnal Primary School cleaner Hannah Lynam, aged 18, of Halifax Drive, Leegomery, had more luck. Having studied music for two years at Telford New College she got through the first round with her performance of Tough Lover by Christina Aguilera and DNA by Little Mix.
“Its amazing. I have not stopped smiling since they told me and invited me back for a second audition,” said Hannah who normally sings in the choir at the Salvation Army Church in Oakengates but returned for the further X Factor trial but got no further. After the rejection Hannah said: “I am still going to make my dream come true.”
Natasha Cadman, aged 24, of Rawlings Road, Smethwick, also briefly tasted success after getting through the first round with her version of Whitney Houston’s Dance With Somebody before rejection in the next.
The mother who studied music at Halesowen College said: “They just said ‘you can sing but it is a very high standard this year’. “This could have been a life-changing moment for me but it was not to be.”
Natasha added: “I have been singing since I was four years old and have 21 songs on YouTube. Just because it did not happen this time I will keep believing.”
Talisha McDonald, a 16-year-old Highfields schoolgirl, of Merridale Street West, Penn Fields, Wolverhampton did not get pass the first round although she was asked to sing two songs. “I tried Britain’s Got Talent and did not get picked for that either but it was an exciting day and I enjoyed it,” she said. “You cannot sit on the sidelines in life. You have got to be in it to win it.”