WHEN the cameras are turned off and 15 million people stick the kettle on, what is going on in the studio at Britain’s Got Talent? After last weekend’s final on ITV (and the post-show analysis on the ITV2 show), did everyone just go home or did they stay on and (age restrictions permitting) get trollied?
“Oh no definitely not,” says winner Jai McDowall, the softly spoken 24-year-old care worker from Scotland.
“I had to keep a level head because I had interviews lined up for the next day.”
Millions saw McDowall crowned the winner of Britain’s Got Talent 2011 on Saturday night.
“After you come off stage you meet the judges and they were really nice, saying positive things about the performance. Then I did Britain’s Got More Talent with Stephen Mulhern and I met Louis Walsh, which was amazing.”
What was amazing about Louis Walsh?
“Oh, he’s a nice guy.”
Although Walsh didn’t think he’d win. The Westlife manager had witnessed McDowall on last year’s X Factor where he made it to the “boot camp” stages, before being sent home by the judging panel.
Walsh was surprised by his Britain’s Got Talent win and said: “I thought he would have been second or third. I thought the little kid was going to win but he did a great song. Best of luck to him.”
The little kid in question is 12-year-old Ronan Parke, who went into the final as favourite but lost out to Jay by just 2.5% of the public vote.
Says McDowall: “There was so much talent in the final that it could have been any of us. New Bounce were fantastic and wee Ronan is so talented.”
Does he think the rumours that Ronan had already been mentored by Cowell, prior to Britain’s Got Talent, lost him votes?
“No I don’t. We all knew it wasn’t true. Ronan worked really hard on his songs but luckily I picked a good song and upped my game as well.”
The song was Josh Groban's hit To Where You Are and after it won him the crown, McDowell and the rest of the finalists, judges and crew had a party in the studio.
“My mum, sisters and brother and five of my best friends were there, so that was amazing, to share it with them,” he says.
“That was until about two in the morning, then I went home to sleep it all off. I woke up the next day trying to process what had happened.”
He says ‘home’ but he means the hotel. For the duration of the show, finalists stayed in the same hotel together. Could you exploit room service and the mini-bar?
“No,” chuckles McDowall.
“Well, I hope not because I didn’t and I’m going to feel really cheated here.”
McDowall’s style of singing has been compared to Groban’s but he says there’s no clear path where he will be taking his career.
“I need to sit down and think about it,” he says.
There is no record deal as yet and Simon Cowell made it clear that he favoured Ronan Parke but McDowall admits that people from Cowell’s record label, Syco, have been advising him.
Cowell described his performance in the final as “a little bit monotone”. Bit of an insult?
“I took the comment on board. He wasn’t being critical and nasty with it, he was just telling me ’I’ve heard better’.”
McDowall will use the £100,000 prize money to pay off his mortgage and decorate his house. And he’ll be performing in front of the Queen at the Royal Variety Performance in December.
“A boy from where I come from - we don’t dream about it, it’s absolutely amazing,” he says.
But McDowall hasn’t left the day job, as a care worker in Ayrshire, behind just yet.
“My boss has been fantastic with me. He’s given me time off for the tour and said don’t feel bad about it, there’s always a job waiting for me if I need it. That’s good to know.”
Since the final it’s been rounds of interviews and rehearsals for McDowall ahead of the tour, which comes to the Capital FM Arena on Thursday.
“I’ll be doing the three songs I sang on the show and I know them inside out now, because we rehearsed them so much.”
Jai will be headlining the tour, hosted by Stephen Mulhern and featuring finalists Ronan Parke, Paul Gbegbaje, New Bounce, Jean Martyn, Les Gibson, James Hobley, Steven Hall, Michael Collings and Razy Gogonea.
“We all get on. We were in the bar last night actually getting to know each other and relaxing after a hard week. I had breakfast with Ronan this morning. We’re all in it together. There’s a good cameraderie.”
He adds: “I haven’t been to Nottingham before. I haven’t been to most of the cities on this tour. I don’t know what to expect. I hope there’s someone on the tour who knows that area a bit so they can point me in the direction of a good pub.”