It’s night-time at the top of Tower Bridge, where, I’ve been led to believe, British Chinese acts will be gathering to audition for the mind-bogglingly huge, 600 million-viewers-per-episode phenomenon that is China’s Got Talent.
But it quickly becomes clear that, while China has undoubtedly got talent, not much of it is here. That’s not to say there’s no talent, there’s just very little China.
Operatic singer Teresa De Roberto, 19, from Somerset, performs her opening song in Google-translated Chinese – “I started learning a Japanese song at first – they sound the same to me” – but impresses the judges a lot more with Pavarotti classic Nessun Dorma.
Does she have any connection to China? “No… I was surprised they asked me to do it.” Teresa has previously tried for spots on both Britain’s Got Talent and The X Factor but missed out – “I think it’s because I’m normal.”
Flamboyant Latin-laced duo Dance Flavourz (pictured) have already done BGT, making it as far as the live semi-finals. Francis Cardoso from Venezuela (by way of Mill Hill) is also a former X Factor contestant. Dance Flavourz’s Chinese connection? Francis knows wacky X Factor singer Goldie Cheung from the show. “It’s tenuous – but it’s there,” says partner Julia Bysshe, a marketing exec from Cookham in Berkshire.
David Loh – aka Birmingham-based Melon Man – is another former Britain’s Got Talent contestant. He carves faces in fruit. And I’m not talking Halloween pumpkins here – I mean famous faces. Tonight, he’s doing Jackie Chan. And while Melon Man may have been born in Malaysia, Jackie Chan is Chinese.
To be fair, one man has arrived resplendent in national dress – that’s right, kilt and sporran. Peter McGreskin from Dundee once taught English to children in China, in case you were wondering.
And two pint-sized kung-fu fighters, Mujahid and Junayde – who end their routine by smashing a family-sized bar of Dairy Milk to bits with their foreheads – turn out to have been trained by a Chinese man.
None of the people I talk to actually say “I had a Chinese take-away at the weekend”, but some of them are thinking it.
Of course, there are plenty of Chinese contestants here among the not-so-Chinese. But who cares, anyway? Whoever’s Got Talent is about the people, their acts and their journeys, right? Not where they come from.
Teresa is currently working in a bar in Yeovil, giving up her spare time to perform for charities like the British Legion, and hoping for the break that will allow her to make a career out of it.
Peter would love to return to Shanghai to sing in the city he once called home, but is aware that his ailing mother might not be around to see it.
And Mujahid’s mum says kung-fu has helped him control his attention deficit disorder and Asperger’s symptoms.
Overall, it’s a feel-good evening that leaves me all warm and fuzzy inside, if not a little peckish. Luckily I know a local late-night place – run by a Chinese guy who’s definitely got talent.