She dreamed a dream, and it very nearly came true.
But Susan Boyle's reality show journey finished Saturday with a second-place finish in the finals of “Britain's Got Talent,” an ending that didn't fit the fairy tale. Instead of the 48-year-old Internet sensation, the exuberant dance troupe “Diversity” took the $159,000 prize and will perform for Queen Elizabeth II.
Boyle paced around the stage as the hosts named the top three of the 10 final acts, and looked almost relieved when her name was called as the runner-up.
“The best people won,” Boyle said. “They're very entertaining. Lads, I wish you all the best.”
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Boyle then curtsied several times to the audience, gave them her signature shimmy, and strolled offstage.
It had been a tumultuous week for Boyle, a woman previously unused to the limelight. She lost her cool during a confrontation with two reporters, and the police intervened. One contest judge said Boyle had contemplated pulling out of the competition to soothe her frazzled nerves.
But when she stepped into the spotlight Saturday, Boyle seemed more polished – and animated – than in previous appearances.
She wore a modest, but glamorous, floor-length gown, and chose to go back to the song that rocketed her into the international spotlight: “I Dreamed a Dream,” from the musical “Les Miserables.”
Her hometown of Blackburn, Scotland – a small, working class village near Edinburgh – rallied round her, stringing up posters and signs in her support. Millions tuned in to the live program and voted by telephone afterward.
Boyle was up against a host of everyman acts, including Shaheen Jafargholi, a 12-year-old whose voice has been compared to Michael Jackson's; Hollie Steel, a 10-year-old who turned in a solid performance after a tearful semifinal meltdown; and a grandfather-granddaughter singing duo.
But it was Boyle whom people tuned in to watch.
After her first appearance in April, Boyle became the favorite to win. As she stepped on stage during auditions, her frumpy appearance drew condescending looks from the studio audience and the judges. But her soaring, evocative voice silenced the doubters, and a star was born.