BRITAIN’s Got Talent (BGT) has been criticised over its treatment of an East Sutherland dance team which had high hopes of appearing on the popular ITV show this year.
Producers wanted to extensively change both the music and the routines of Golspie comedy dance group the Nannas, before eventually turning them down for this year’s series, it has been revealed.
The rejection has left group members, who had already booked flights to Manchester and accommodation in order to attend second-stage auditions, out of pocket as well as hugely disappointed.
The Nannas’ teacher and choreographer, Kim Grant of Standfast Dance, said she was “gutted” at the outcome and her eyes had been opened as to the extent BGT acts were “stage-managed”.
She is also critical of the BGT production group for not returning her calls and keeping her in the dark about what was happening.
A BGT team, comprising researcher Gabriella Colasurdo and a cameraman, travelled to Golspie in late October for a first audition in Fountain Road Hall of the Nannas and another Standfast dance group, Tartan Twist.
The local audition, which went well, came about after Mrs Grant attended BGT auditions in Inverness and spoke to producers about the two groups. They were interested enough to travel to Golspie to see for themselves.
Mrs Grant said: “After the Golspie audition, we were given a letter which said that if we hadn’t heard from BGT by February 19, then we had not been successful.
“However, I got a call two weeks ago asking if the Nannas would be able to come to Manchester for a second round of auditions on either February 9, 10 or 11. It was just the Nannas – not Tartan Twist.”
An excited Kim contacted all seven Nannas’ members, who are aged between 56 and 74 and practice twice a week at the Stag’s Head Hotel, Golspie. They agreed to go to Manchester tomorrow.
But there followed a frustrating couple of weeks as Mrs Grant was told first that the Nannas’ music had to be changed and then their dance routine. She was asked to film a new routine at the last minute using the music stipulated.
And she also had difficulty trying to pin down her BGT contact, associate producer Sunny Govenden, as to whether or not the Nannas were on the Manchester bill.
She said: “I kept phoning him and he would say he would phone back, but never did. Eventually we just decided to book flights to Manchester as time was running out and we did not want to be in the position that we did have a slot but no flights.” Mrs Grant finally heard on Monday that the Nannas had been turned down for BGT 2017.
She said: “Mr Govenden phoned and said that it was not a ‘no’ – that BGT wanted to keep us in reserve for next year. I was devastated. Why would they go to all the bother of researching new music, sending it to us along with a new routine, and having me video it and send it back?”
Mrs Grant told Mr Govenden the group’s flights were booked and asked if they could all attend the Manchester audition as part of the audience. He replied that he would phone her back – but never did.
The Nannas were equally as upset as Mrs Grant and have all resolved not to have anything more to do with BGT.
Mrs Grant said: “It’s not all it is cracked up to be. I would not want anyone else to go through what we have gone through.
“I just assumed that when we said we would be able to go to the audition, they were going to tell us to come and do our bit – but that is not how it is. They were wanting to stage-manage everything about our act.
“I would certainly not entertain doing a programme like that again, not after what we have seen.”
Mrs Grant then went online to try cancel the Nannas flights, only to discover she had mistakenly booked them for March. The group will now make the best of it and plan a short break to Manchester.
The Northern Times asked BGT to respond but no comment had been received by the time the paper went to press.
A BGT spokeman said: “It is not unusual for Britain’s Got Talent to work with acts to ensure the performances are suitable for the show. On this occasion, the music the Nanna’s wished to perform with wasn’t cleared for use in the programme.
“Unfortunately, due to the high volume of people applying for the show not all acts can make it through to the next stage and the Nanna’s were never confirmed for a judges audition.”