WHERE WERE YOU WHEN: Susan Boyle blew our minds

It was a showstopping turn that astonished the cynics and even Simon Cowell, recalls Good Morning Britain presenter Richard Arnold.

 A decade ago a Scottish woman called Susan Boyle graced the Britain’s Got Talent stage, a humble West Lothian lass teetering on the verge of the third act of her life but pinning her hopes on finding fame on the hit talent show. 

Everything about her screamed ‘hands that do dishes’, and that’s exactly what the rubbernecking audience expected from her performance: car crash, or at very best, humdrum and homespun. 

‘I’m 47, and that’s just one side of me,’ she quipped, with a swivel of her hips to the delight of a tittering crowd, ripe with rotten fruits, all barrels loaded. Susan carried on, oblivious. Caught in the reality TV stocks she may have been, but she cared not. 

Susan Boyle
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The dream, she told us, was to be as famous as Elaine Paige – albeit in a gold lace V-neck dress with a sheer cap sleeve and satin belt. The white peep-toe shoes confirmed it all: this was her Sunday best.

I, too, had laid on my best that night. A platter of nibbles for friends at home, loins girded for another famous BGT scream-at-the-screen moment, especially when Susan revealed she was going to sing Les Misérables’ ‘I Dreamed a Dream’. 

‘Big song,’ conceded Simon Cowell with a pre-emoji eye roll. Watching at home, I was equally slack-jawed at the prospect.

Within seconds of Susan opening her mouth to sing, the audience was on its feet. On the judging panel, Amanda Holden’s Collagenwave facial visibly rippled, Piers Morgan had a lump in his throat (confirming that, yes, he does have a heart, not a swinging brick) and Simon’s gnashers beamed with the pearly-white confidence of a show supremo laughing all the way to the bank. 

Frank confessional: I wept. 

Susan went to on to perform for royalty, sell millions of albums and break free, as the song goes, from the life she was living. It’s still a ‘yes’ from me, especially after several glasses of Saint-Emilion premier cru and a slice of Cathedral City cheddar.

Also that month…

Roger Federer
Willi Schneider/REX/Shuttersto​ck
  • Tennis star Roger Federer wed former tennis player Miroslava Vavrinec in Switzerland.
  • A failed car attack on the Dutch royal family resulted in eight deaths, including the driver’s, whose motive was unclear.
  •  US Navy Seals rescued Captain Richard Phillips, killing three of his Somali pirate kidnappers and capturing a fourth. (Tom Hanks later played him in the film Captain Phillips).
  • The UK ended combat operations in Iraq.