A Leyland organist is the toast of the small screen after having the nation in stitches on Britain’s Got Talent.
Dad-of-three Graham Blackledge, 42, who works for Rimmers music shop on Chapel Brow, stole the show when he appeared on the hit ITV talent competition on Saturday night.
He took to the stage and announced he would play the organ and sing for judges Simon Cowell, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams.
But it was his sense of humour and comic timing that charmed the crowd and raised the roof during the audition at Blackpool Opera House.
Graham has become an instant star of You Tube and has been whisked down to London to appear on This Morning.
Today Marius Jones, who worked with Graham at Rimmers before Graham started running the firm’s warehouse in Centurion Way, said he wasn’t surprised Graham had amused the judges.
He said: “We’ve known for ages he was going to be on the show.
“I was out doing a gig myself but I had a look when I got in and didn’t know what to make of it really!
“He’s a bit of a character.”
During the show, when asked by Simon for his name, Graham joked: “My full name is Michael Graham Blackledge, but everybody calls me Graham.
“In fact, I didn’t even know I was called Michael until I was 11 and then it took me a year to spell it!”
Viewers were shown a video montage in which Graham and his wife Amanda talked about his background singing in clubs and working in Rimmers, where the couple first met.
However, the company director’s promise not to embarrass his wife soon looked to be in jeopardy.
He began to play the organ, but his enthusiastic performance did not go down well with TV mogul Simon, who criticised his facial expressions.
He said: “That was horrific. I tell you why, because you were smiling at us in this weird way the whole way through.”
Fortunately Graham, from Preston, was given another chance, and not to be deterred when an inpatient Simon urged him to sing, he finally launched into a rousing rendition of La Bamba, which brought the audience to its feet.
Simon said: “It was horrendous. It was like eating vanilla ice cream with a sausage - they don’t go together.”
Quick-witted Graham replied “Have you ever tried vanilla and sausage?”, which prompted David to ask if he had ever pursued a career in stand-up comedy.
And the former Little Britain star added: “You are a very funny man. I would love to see you again.”
Graham couldn’t win over Simon, but two ‘yes’ votes from David and Alesha saw him through to the next stage.
Speaking afterwards to presenters Ant and Dec, he said: “I didn’t expect a ‘yes’, I expected buzz, buzz, buzz!”
- For a full interview with Graham about his experience, see Wednesday’s Chorley and Leyland Guardian.