Monday, 4 April 2011
Auditions Begin For 'Britain's Got Talent'
It’s the show that critics accuse of exploiting vulnerable members of society but the family of its latest star are quick to point out that he’d be the first person to boast about his appearance on the new series of Britain’s Got Talent coming to ITV later this month.
Only, when the footage of last night’s audition is aired, it’s very unlikely that Harry Swollen will be able to enjoy his fifteen minutes of fame. In all likelihood, he will be in the same Level One coma he’s been under for the past eighteen months.
Swollen is but one victim of the rash of trampolining accidents that have filled hospital waiting rooms in the past twelve months. Only, for Harry, there was no hour long wait in A&E followed by a plaster cast and weeks spent preventing his wife’s slow brother Verne from covering his leg with semi-pornographic doodles. His trampolining accident threw him through a second floor bathroom window where he cracked his head on the bidet before momentum carried him out onto the landing and down the stairs. He has been unconscious ever since.
‘We’ve certainly been through some dark times,’ admits his wife, ‘but we have to keep going and look forward to some happier days for the children’s sake.’
Those happier days are the work of amateur puppeteer Maxwell Higginbottom and the story of Harry Swollen’s success is really the story of how the two men came together and started to make dreams happen.
The 2010 series of Britain’s Got Talent holds bad memories for Higginbottom. Unable to proceed past the qualifying round, he failed to win over the judges with his five minute shadow theatre of Polish folk tales performed to Stravinsky. It was the kind of disappointment that might have ruined a less determined man but Yorkshire-born Higginbottom admits that he can be stubborn. ‘Northern grit we call it,’ he says from his workshop in Halifax. ‘I just had to go back to the basics and reassess where I went wrong. Turns out I was missing the X factor.’
He found that X factor being fed intravenously two hundred miles away in a hospital in Hillingdon. After reading of the story of Swollen’s accident, he approached the family and proposed that he could turn their grief into laughter by reanimating their husband and father via two lengths of sold three by two for the purposes of song and dance.
‘It’s remarkable what he can make Harry do,’ explained Hilda Swollen as she washes down her husband ahead of a candid photo session with a national newspaper. ‘The first time I saw Maxwell at work, it was just like Harry had woken up and was eager to get down to the Labour club. He always loved to dance, did Harry, though I think he’d surprised to discover how good he’s suddenly become at tap.’
Hilda and the family have sworn to keep the result of the audition a secret until the day of broadcast but Higginbottom has dropped a few clues as to how it went.
‘Let’s just say that we’re keeping Harry’s bikini line well waxed and we’re putting him through twice daily stretching sessions to help make him more supple. I want to see Harry finish a dance with the splits. It’s hard work on my wrists but if we can work the right amount of slack into his groin I think it could be the kind of performance to win over the hearts of a nation.’
That news is certain to please Swollen’s growing number of fans who believe the coma patient might become this year’s Susan Boyle. ‘Where SuBo led, HaSwoI can follow,’ says family friend, Jimmy Pool, who is now acting as Swollen’s manager. ‘This time next year, we expect Harry to be conquering America, assuming, that is, that we can get him through customs as hand luggage.’