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Britain’s Got Talent discovers Shetland

Fiddle talent. (From left) Jodie Smith, Jasmin Smith and Anya Johnston hoping to make it onto national TV at Tuesday's Britian's Got Talent auditions at Mareel.

ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent headed north on Tuesday to audition islanders wanting to take part in the hugely popular show. Patrick Mainland went along to Mareel to check out their performances.

Baton twirlers, gymnasts and a singer from the UK’s most northerly outpost all featured in the latest audition for Britain’s Got Talent as ITV’s most popular show reached out to those parts of the country that other talent shows have yet to get to.

Scouts for the show’s ninth series spent Tuesday in Shetland as part of their first ever tour of northern Scotland, that will also take in Orkney, the Western Isles and the Highlands.

The casting team said the trip was an effort to “reach out to people who can’t necessarily travel to the main audition cities”.

They said they wanted to leave “no stone unturned” when it came to discovering gifted performers.

Auditions were held in Shetland’s capital Lerwick, at the Mareel cinema/arts centre, through the morning.

The scouts were moving on to watch Shetland’s gymnasts and baton twirlers in the afternoon with an open mic session at night in the Lounge Bar, whose traditional music sessions are world renowned.

The auditions will continue across the whole of the UK until December ahead of the judge’s audition tour early next year.

This regional tour is offering more people than ever the opportunity to showcase their skills and talents.

On Tuesday islanders were eagerly queueing up for their chance to appear on the programme, which attracts millions of viewers, and emulate past winners such as Diversity, Ashleigh and Pudsey, and this year’s Collabro.

Britain's northernmost hopefuls were Abby Williams (second from left) and Sula Brookes from Unst, at Mareel with Britain's Got Talent casting team Jake Court (left) and Sophie Brown (right)

Sula Brookes, a 14 year old singer from Shetland’s most northerly island of Unst, was nervous but said she was pleased with her two-song performance.

Three young Shetland fiddlers showcased the islands’ world famous traditional music. Accompanied by their tutor Eunice Henderson, 11 year old Anya Johnson, 12 year old Jodie Smith and 13 year old Jasmin Smith – all winners in this year’s Shetland Young Fiddler of the Year awards – performed two traditional sets for the judges.

The trio were excited and keen for their style of music to be noticed, while the scouts were impressed by the speed and competence of their playing.

“It’s a great opportunity to audition for us, because it’s a 14 hour ferry trip to Aberdeen from her,” they said.

ITV’s junior casting researcher Sophie Brown was impressed with her visit to the far north.

“It’s been a really worthwhile trip so far, we’ve found some good singers and also some traditional folk musicians for the first time.

“It’s important that the show reaches out to these areas and gives more people a chance to be seen, and we’re very happy to see that the people here are willing to show off their talents.”

The tour will move onwards to Orkney on Wednesday, Inverness on Thursday, and Stornoway on Friday before heading to the central belt at the weekend.

Patrick Mainland

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