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Journalist John turns judge for the day

It seems everyone is searching for the next singing sensation…

And in South Devon, local radio station Gemini FM is trying to unearth its own talent, with the Torquay Herald Express’ very own showbiz writer John Clamp as one of the judges.

He’s not quite Simon ‘Mr Nasty’ Cowell – and even admitted the acts deserved something for getting up on stage to perform at all.

John was asked to help choose talented finalists from an open audition held at the Princess Theatre, along with singing coach Helen Sheppard, Val Harries from the theatre and Mel Thom and Jon White from Gemini’s breakfast show.

John said: “You don’t really know what you’re letting yourself in for when you agree to judge a talent contest, as I’ve found to my cost in the past.

“On others I’ve done, putting a fat round zero in the “star potential” box seems harsh, but it’s often been an overestimation.

“Torbay Talent 2002 was a different matter altogether, though.”

John was impressed by the volume of local talent at the Popstars-style audition, where hopefuls had to belt out a couple of verses of a song without accompaniment.

John said: “They all deserved, and got, a big round of applause from us as judges, if only for the sheer guts it took to stand up and be counted in the first place.

“Contestants as young as 14 overcame their nerves to sing in front of the five of us, and although we’re all very cuddly and kindly people (unlike some TV judges I could mention) it must have been a hair-raising experience.”

The pop hopefuls sang a variety of songs from past and present and inevitably the judges heard some several times over!

John said: “I’d never say it was tedious, but one or two entrants did lighten things up considerably.

“One, Steve Phillips, said ‘I’m going to sing The 12 Days of Christmas, but I’m only going to do the first five days to save time.’

“There was some astonishing talent though, proving that you can hear star potential in untrained voices.”

The winner, to be announced on November 18, will cut a CD, sing to the crowds at Torquay’s Christmas lights switch-on, spend time in a London recording studio and also sing their song on Gemini FM.

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