Stourbridge salsa gran's TV audition earns her a rare apology from Simon Cowell (From Stourbridge News)
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Stourbridge salsa gran's TV audition earns her a rare apology from Simon Cowell
STOURBRIDGE'S salsa gran Paddy Jones earned a rare apology from tough-talking TV mogul Simon Cowell after wowing the judges on the first episode of Britain's Got Talent.
The gutsy great-grandmother, who performs a racy salsa routine with young Spanish dance partner Nicko Espinosa, is now a hot favourite to win the ITV talent show - having been buzzed straight through to the semi-finals by judge Amanda Holden, who couldn't contain her excitement at seeing the 79-year-old's energetic audition.
Cowell prematurely pressed the red buzzer to halt the pensioner's performance, screened on Saturday night, before the raunchy routine really got started.
But he later issued an unusual apology - after the panel was left agasp and in awe of the dynamic dance moves displayed by Paddy and salsa instructor Nicko who is 40 years her junior.
After pressing the new golden buzzer, which each judge can hit just once throughout the whole series, Holden rushed on stage to hug the former Stourbridge shop owner and declared: "I just thought that was incredible, absolutely incredible. I hope you win Britain's Got Talent."
While Simon told her: "I do apologise. I did obviously buzz a little early; it was all slow and normal and then it all went ballistic. It was extra-ordinary. "
Paddy later said: "To get an apology on the programme was quite something. Simon doesn't apologise."
Fellow judge David Walliams described pint-sized Paddy as "an amazing example to older people" and Alesha Dixon called the plucky pensioner her "hero", adding: "You're unbelievable; I hope I'm like you when I'm that age."
The pair are the first act from this series to land an instant place in the live finals and when asked if she believed they could win the show Paddy replied: "It would be nice as long as people enjoy what we're doing and we give people pleasure - that's the main thing."
In the meantime, Paddy and Nicko's appearance on the show has sparked accusations of fixing - as the pair won Spanish TV talent show Tu Si Que Vales in 2009 and they have also appeared on Argentina's version of Strictly Come Dancing.
Reality TV fans took to Twitter to air their views.
One user said: "Paddy and Nico won Spanish Version of got talent WHAT A FIX !! "
Another tweeted: "By the way, Paddy has already won Spain's Got Talent.. I guess she didn't appreciate that win."
While another posted: "Paddy and Nico, touring the world already won Spanish version competed in Argentina dancing with the stars golden buzzer or golden fix."
But Simon Cowell hit back via Twitter, saying: "Don't knock paddy for performing on a Spanish talent show. She is British and wants the chance to perform in front of our royal family."
He added: "She is 80 years old. Let her have that chance. You the viewers will decide."
And a show spokesman said: "Anyone can apply for Britain's Got Talent whether they are professional or amateur, irrespective of their past experience and all contestants are auditioned on merit. None of the judging panel had seen or knew of Paddy before her audition and her act was a complete surprise to them all."
Paddy, a former professional dancer who used to run Paddy's Fabrics in Victoria Passage, put together her novelty routine with Nicko around a decade ago after losing her husband David to leukaemia.
The pair had only moved to Gandia, near Valencia, Spain, 18 months earlier when tragedy struck, but brave Paddy decided to stay in her new home and rekindled her love of dance, having salsa lessons at nearby Nicko's academy.
Before long the pair formed an unlikely double act and they have since danced at congresses and appeared on TV shows around the world. Paddy has even made it into the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest female acrobatic salsa dancer in the world.
Paddy's son Phil, from Hagley, described his mum's success as "fantastic" and said she's love to win a chance to perform at the Royal Variety Show.
Meanwhile regulars at The Station pub in the village are reportedly backing Paddy to win the TV talent search.
Manager Elaine Bradley said the dynamic septuagenarian and her family and friends, followed by camera crews from Britain's Got Talent, descended on the pub on Saturday to watch the auditions on the big TV screen.
She added: "We wish her all the best, she's a lovely, lovely lady. She's fantastic. I wish I could move like that. Everybody loves her and we're behind her all the way."
Paddy said of her success to date: "It's all gone a bit manic. I only went on the show for the fun of it - I never thought it would go this far."
To watch Paddy and Nicko in action, see below.
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