Meet Britain’s reality show exports

From China to France via a salsa dancing Grandma in Spain, British acts have been busy scooping reality show titles abroad


Britain’s Got Talent returns next Saturday, a year on from Hungarian group Attraction taking top prize with their emotionally-charged shadow performances.


Judges Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, David Walliams and Alesha Dixon return to hunt out the latest talent. With the winner nabbing a spot on this year’s Royal Variety Show as well as a cash prize. 

The Hungarian stars aren’t the only acts heading further afield to try their hand at winning a reality show. Meet the British stars who’ve won first prize in talent shows abroad:

2009: Sarah “Paddy” Jones wins Spain’s Got Talent

Sarah, 75, from Stourbridge, West Midlands is a salsa dancing Grandma who shocked the Spain’s Got Talent judges with her high-energy routine with youthful partner Nico.

Rumour has it Sarah is already through to this year’s live semi-finals on Britain’s Got Talent. This comes as part of a new format that allows the judges the chance to give one act a direct pass to the semi-final round. With news Amanda Holden’s ‘Golden Buzzer’ choice is a salsa act it looks like Paddy could be on her way to another title… 

2009: Mary-Jess Leaverland wins China’s singing contest I Want To Sing To The Stars 

Mary-Jess auditioned for the Chinese talent show Min Xing Chang Fan Tian while studying in China. She went on to scoop the title, and relatively modest £1,000 prize money. Mary-Jess has since toured with British tenor Russell Watson and sang the soundtrack to ITV drama Downton Abbey when vocals were added in 2011 for the album.

2011: Matthew Raymond-Barker wins X Factor in France

Matthew Raymond-Barker tried out for the UK X Factor and after failing to get past Bootcamp, went on to win the French version of the show.

Like Mary-Jess, Matthew entered the competition while living in France as part of his degree programme at Bath University. Matthew was the only Brit in the final and said at the time that he was shocked at the support he received from French viewers.

Britain’s Got Talent returns Saturday 12 April at 7:15pm on ITV