Britain's Got Talent Winners You Don't Hear About Anymore

Simon Cowell isn't just a competition show judge. He's also the mastermind behind the "Got Talent" franchise, which he launched in 2006 following the success of his previous show, "The X Factor." It began with "America's Got Talent," and soon after, "Britain's Got Talent" became a hit. Every week, millions of viewers tuned in to watch performers of all ages and talents give it their all for the chance to win the £250,000 cash prize and a spot in The Royal Variety Performance. The franchise has become such a success that in 2014, Guinness World Records awarded Cowell's "Got Talent" as the world's most successful format for a television show.

"Britain's Got Talent" has captivated audiences beyond the scope of the United Kingdom since 2007. Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly (known professionally as Ant and Dec) have been the much-loved hosts throughout the show, and judges like Alesha Dixon, Amanda Holden, and Piers Morgan have always drawn in fans. But it's Cowell who has a keen eye for potential stardom, and those wishing to audition often travel far and wide for a chance at getting in front of the man who made One Direction and Fifth Harmony possible.

However, even those who win the show aren't guaranteed a lifetime of fame and fortune, and there have been many acts who enjoyed only a brief time in the limelight. Here are some of the "Britain's Got Talent" winners you don't hear from anymore and what happened to them.

Paul Potts

During the first season of "Britain's Got Talent," Paul Potts had some heavy competition, including 6-year-old Connie Talbot (whose rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" was a performance that made everyone cry). Yet Potts, a tenor from Bristol, became the unlikely reigning champion in the show's premiere season. His love of opera inspired him to perform a rendition of "Nessun Dorma," an aria from Puccini's "Turandot." Almost immediately, everyone knew they were in the presence of greatness, and Potts easily snatched the win.

Potts went from a bullied schoolboy with a love of singing to a near-bankrupt store manager, but after his "Britain's Got Talent" win, he made it big. His debut album of arias, "One Chance," was released that same year and topped the charts in several countries. Potts has released several more albums and embarked on many tours since his win. He also released his memoir titled "One Chance," which served as inspiration for the 2013 movie of the same name about his life (which starred James Corden as Potts).

Potts competed in "America's Got Talent: The Champions" in 2019, making it to the top 12, and also made an appearance on Germany's version of "The Masked Singer" in a koala suit. However, unless you're an avid follower of his music, it would seem that he's steadily dipped out of the spotlight over the years.

George Sampson

13-year-old George Sampson from Manchester first auditioned for "Britain's Got Talent" in 2007, dancing a hip-hop routine to Timbaland's "Drop." He aced his audition, but unfortunately didn't make it to the semi-finals. Sampson didn't give up and returned for season 2 in 2008, and with that additional year of experience, he managed to beat out the rest of the competition and take the win. During his time on the show, Sampson revealed that he had a rare spine condition, Scheuermann's disease, which causes a curvature of his spine and blindness in his left eye.

Speaking on "The Lewis Nicholls Show" in 2021, 13 years after his win, Sampson admitted, "Not at a single point did I think I was gonna win." He spoke on what inspired him to come back after failing in the first season, saying he, "wasn't happy that I was judged on my dance ability by three people that aren't street dancers, that aren't break dancers." All he wanted to do was get to the semi-finals, because that would be the point where the public decides who stays on the show.

After winning season 2 of "Britain's Got Talent," Sampson went to work on the West End musical "Into the Hoods." He then brought his love of acting over to television, starring in shows like "Mount Pleasant" and "Emmerdale Farm," but hasn't had any TV roles since 2018. In 2022, he played the role of Dean in the stage musical "Everybody's Talking About Jamie."


After three seasons, "Britain's Got Talent" had crowned one singer, one dancer, and a dance group that beat the iconic Susan Boyle. So when Spelbound, a unique gymnastic troupe that performed captivating routines, won season 4 of the show in 2010, it became clear that really any type of act had a chance to win. The 13-person group went on to perform at two of the Royal Variety Performances, in the 2012 London Olympics closing ceremony, for Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Albert Hall, and for a handful of other television appearances. The group seemed to be here to stay, but their last known performance was in 2012.

Flash forward to 2015, and sadly, Spelbound is no more. After several members of the troupe left, the group's gymnastics coach and head coach of the London-based Heathrow Gymnastics Club, Neil Griffiths, was arrested on suspicion of cruelty to some of the children he trained. A parent of a Heathrow Gymnastics Club gymnast told the Mirror, "Neil is very well known and well ­respected within the club and British Gymnastics ... He has achieved a great deal but his training programs are extremely tough. He is a very ­demanding coach." Although the charges were later dropped, this left a mark on his name and more or less dissolved what was left of Spelbound.

Jai McDowall

When you think of past "Britain's Got Talent" winners, Jai McDowall might be a name that rings a bell. The singer from Ayrshire, Scotland, wowed the audience and judges alike when he, knees trembling, belted out "Anthem" from the musical "Chess." In 2011, McDowall won season 5 of "Britain's Got Talent" and dropped his debut album "Believe," having been signed by Syco, Simon Cowell's record label. Unfortunately, just three months after "Believe" was released, Syco dropped McDowell as his album wasn't selling.

Despite the unlucky turn of events, McDowall didn't lose hope. Inspired by his love of musical theater, the Scottish singer teamed up with Jonathan Ansell of G4, and the duo toured their show, "Les Musicals," which paid tribute to classic musical theater numbers. He also underwent a total transformation, getting a nose job for his deviated septum, and was practically unrecognizable when he reemerged for "Britain's Got Talent: The Champions" in 2019.

In 2022, after a little bit of a hiatus, McDowall sat down with The Herald to discuss the impact "Britain's Got Talent" had on his life. "Ultimately, it was great for me. I probably wouldn't be doing what I'm doing now. I loved the process of the show and had a great experience. There was a bumpy road afterwards and the way the career trajectory went but in a way I learned a lot."

Ashleigh and Pudsey

In 2011, the first animal performance was crowned winner of "Britain's Got Talent." One half of the duo, Ashleigh, was just a teenager in school when she won, and she was able to share the achievement with her stage partner, Pudsey the Bichon Frise, Chinese Crested Powderpuff, and Border Collie mix. The two won Britain's hearts performing choreographed dance numbers, and after they won "Britain's Got Talent," their careers really took off.

They were invited to perform in a " The Wizard of Oz" pantomime for three years in a row and guest judged on "Top Dog Model" and "That Dog Can Dance!" Pudsey was even granted a £350,000 book deal. Officially national treasures by 2014, they starred in "Pudsey: The Movie" and performed for the queen on a number of occasions. After Ashleigh secured her placement in the limelight without Pudsey by appearing on "Celebrity First Dates," she found herself in the middle of a scandal, having reportedly slept with a friend's boyfriend. Her image was temporarily damaged, with a source telling the Mirror she was "completely two-faced."

Then, in 2017, Pudsey sadly died from cancer. Ashleigh shared the news on Instagram in a post captioned, "'I can't honestly believe I am writing these words. My handsome man has gone and I don't know what to do without him."


During season 7 of "Britain's Got Talent," one of the most unique performances moved judge Amanda Holden to tears during the audition process. Hungarian shadow theater group Attraction baffled audiences with their ability to seamlessly morph themselves into practically any shape, and paired with stunning backdrops and choreography, they won the show in 2013. But they weren't in Simon Cowell's favor for long, as he was quick to claim Attraction had "flopped" when they didn't embark on a UK tour immediately after their time on "Britain's Got Talent."

Zoltán Szucs, founder and choreographer of the group, fought back, telling the Mirror, "Simon knows that we will do a UK tour when we're ready. The timing is not important; it is the quality. I want to build up Attraction to be a worldwide brand and I don't need to rush it." Due to the fact that the group is still together and performing today, having also appeared on "America's Got Talent: The Champions," it's safe to say Szucs knew what he was talking about. Then, in 2022, Szucs showcased his new group, Attraction Juniors, a team aged between 10 and 19. They successfully auditioned for "Britain's Got Talent" season 15, but didn't make it past the semi-final round.


Simon Cowell loves his boy bands, so when the five-man musical theater group Collabro won season 8 of "Britain's Got Talent," he saw dollar signs. The group was made up of friends Richard Hadfield, Jamie Lambert, Michael Auger, Matt Pagan, and Thomas Redgrave, who auditioned with a song from "Les Miserables." After winning the show, Collabro signed on with Syco and released their first album "Stars," which launched all the way to number one on the charts. They released their second album, "Act Two," in 2015 and went on a handful of tours around the world, even selling out the London Palladium.

But all was not well behind the scenes, and Richard Hadfield left the group in 2016 and went solo. Speaking with the Evening Standard that same year, Hadfield cleared the air of any misconceptions about leaving Collabro. "It wasn't easy to walk away. The music industry can bring out the worst in people. When you are thrust into that position, in the deep end like you are with 'Britain's Got Talent,' people change. People aren't who you thought they were," he said. With or without Hadfield, the show must go on. Collabro released two more studio albums following his departure, embarked on a whirlwind of a tour, and in 2022 secured a headlining act at the Gaiety Festival.

Jules and Matisse

Everybody loves a pet performance, so it should come as no surprise that season 9 of "Britain's Got Talent" again favored a dog act. Dog trainer Jules O'Dwyer and Matisse, a Border Collie, won over the audience in 2015, making it all the way to the end thanks to their agility-filled performances. In their final act on the show, Matisse performed a gravity-defying tightrope stunt that left audiences amazed. However, they were soon the subject of controversy when it was revealed that Matisse hadn't performed the stunt at all — it had been O'Dwyer's other dog, Chase, AKA Matisse's stunt double. Many felt misled when the switcheroo came to light, and a spokesperson for "Britain's Got Talent" issued a formal apology for misleading the audience.

While many were upset, some angry viewers took it too far, as O'Dwyer later told the Daily Star that Matisse had received death threats online. "The reaction is upsetting but my only worry is my dogs' welfare and safety. I've always been worried about them. I never leave the dogs unattended. I don't trust anybody," she explained. O'Dwyer now lives in Belgium with her wife and troupe of dogs, and it doesn't seem like they'll be returning to the spotlight anytime soon.

Richard Jones

After seeing singers, dancers, and dogs win "Britain's Got Talent," we finally witnessed the show's first ever winning magician, Army veteran Richard Jones, in season 10. His audition saw an array of mind tricks (including the transformation of an orange soda into a cup of tea), and it became instantly clear that the magician was made for show business. After winning the show in 2016, Essex-based Jones went on to star in his own ITV show, "Operation Magic," and began traveling the United Kingdom for his "Power of Imagination" tour, always incorporating stories from his military days into his routines.

In 2019, he embarked on another magical tour, "Escape: Breaking The Limits Of the Mind," and, while still enlisted in the Army, continued to practice his magic set. Jones made a resurgence for both "Britain's Got Talent: The Champions" and "Britain's Got Talent: The Ultimate Magician" in 2022, but they were very different experiences from his time on "Britain's Got Talent" in 2015. He told the U.S. Sun, "When I did the magician special there was no rivalry because we were all so different and interested in what each other was doing. We were all giving each other tips on how to make things better. It was such a friendly show." Although he didn't place in the finals for either of the "Got Talent" specials, Jones has continued to pursue his passion as a corporate entertainer and theater magician.

Tokio Myers

Tokio Myers is a name we haven't been quick to forget, just like the pianist's winning performances from season 11 of "Britain's Got Talent." Myers blended classical music with modern pop hits into his piano playing and ultimately won the judges' and the public's hearts. During his audition (via YouTube), Myers said, "I grew up in a really rough estate in London ... that definitely played a role in sticking at music, it was just a way of releasing any kind of negative energy and putting it into something positive."

Following his win in 2017, Myers signed with record label Syco and released his debut album, "Our Generation," a mashup of originals and covers blended together with his incredible piano playing skills. In a 2018 interview with Strong Island off the back of his tour, Myers explained what he has up his sleeve. "After the tour, I will be back in the studio collaborating with some inspiring producers and artists which I am really looking forward to ... Hoping to release a second album later this year, then onto the summer festivals ... followed by an Autumn tour, then maybe a holiday if there's time, wishful thinking maybe, who knows!" While a second album is still yet to drop, we're excited to see what Myers has in store for the future and who he may be covering next.

Lee Ridley (Lost Voice Guy)

Lee Ridley became an overnight sensation when he auditioned for "Britain's Got Talent" in 2018, something he never thought would be possible just three years prior when he'd been working for Sunderland Council. Ridley has cerebral palsy and is unable to speak, so he used his iPad's automated voice to deliver a comedy routine under the name Lost Voice Guy. His comedic timing, well-crafted jokes, and self-deprecating sense of humor made him an obvious choice for the season 12 winner of "Britain's Got Talent."

In 2019, Ridley spoke with The Guardian about how his life has changed since he was on the competition show. "One of the best things to happen since I won is that people are engaging with me ... For the first time, they seem comfortable talking to a disabled person." He later commented on being a bit of a trailblazer for other disabled performers, saying, "Obviously I can't speak for every disabled person. In fact it would be quite ironic if I was the voice of the disabled. But ... I do think my success has given them the confidence to follow their dreams a bit."

Ridley has continued touring and booking out comedy shows as Lost Voice Guy over the years, and in 2022, he made a big change. Dan Pye, a voiceover artist from Whickham, lent his voice to Ridley's communication device, so the comedian can now have more inflection and an accent to match his friends' and family's.

Colin Thackery

Colin Thackery's story is one to pull at your heartstrings, and given his sheer vocal talent, it's no mystery as to why he won "Britain's Got Talent" in 2019 at the age of 89. Dressed in the red and black Royal Artillery uniform worn by Chelsea Pensioners, he dedicated each of his performances to his late wife, who died in 2016. Thackery became the oldest winner in the show's history, as well as the oldest solo artist ever to sign his first record deal — something he probably never could have imagined doing, given that he auditioned for "Britain's Got Talent" on a dare. Thackery's debut album, "Love Changes Everything," was released in 2019.

After his victory, the Korean War veteran showed his caring nature and pledged to give some of his earnings to the Royal Chelsea Hospital, where he lives. Thackery also spoke with television presenter Lorraine Kelly in 2019 following his "Britain's Got Talent" win about the work he does with Alzheimer's patients. "I learned that people with Alzheimer's, in any form of disease of that nature, music is very therapeutic," Thackery said. He added that when he's performed for patients with limited cognition, "occasionally, they'll actually burst into song."

There have been countless contestants who seem to have the makings for stardom, but ultimately fade away. But Thackery's generous nature, vocal talent, and life story have made him a favorite in the UK, and hopefully, he won't slip into obscurity too soon.