29 May 2009
Soon-to-be crazy person
UK frets over Susan Boyle's talent-show finale
By RAPHAEL G. SATTER
LONDON (AP) — Britain and the YouTube-watching world is fretting over the pressure being piled on a Scottish songstress as her final test approaches.
Susan Boyle's big finale in a TV talent show contest won't come until Saturday. But the country is buzzing with concern over whether the 48-year-old church volunteer's nerves will rob her of the victory many feel she deserves.
"Britain's Got Talent," the venue for Boyle's unlikely success, did nothing to dampen the hysteria, with one judge going on national television to say Boyle was so upset by the superheated media coverage she had packed her bags and threatened to quit.
But on Friday her spokeswoman confirmed the final would go ahead as planned.
Boyle became a favorite to win the competition almost immediately after her first appearance, early last month. Her frumpy appearance drew looks of disbelief from the television audience, but her voice silenced the doubters — and turned her into an Internet star.
Her life story — she cared for her widowed mother for years and said she'd never been kissed — also helped win over the world's media.
Boyle has not performed since Sunday, when she made it through to the finals. But that hasn't kept her off Britain's front pages: "Boyling Point," was the Daily Mirror's headline Friday. "Susan Axe Threat," claimed The Sun. "Fears For TV Talent Star Susan," the Daily Express warned.
Concerns have been sparked by reports of erratic behavior. Boyle lost her cool after being harassed by a pair of journalists outside her London hotel Wednesday, her spokeswoman said, speaking on condition of anonymity because she represents all the contestants.
Earlier, a media report claimed that witnesses saw Boyle make an obscene gesture at a hotel television set when judge Piers Morgan lavished praise on fellow contestant Shaheen Jafargholi, 12, during another semifinal broadcast.
Morgan, himself a former tabloid editor, took to the airwaves and the Internet to defend the singer.
"Susan Boyle has never experienced anything like this and is like a frightened rabbit in headlights," Morgan wrote on his blog Thursday. "I am calling today for everyone to just give her a break."
Others in the media raised concerns that Boyle, who had learning difficulties when she was younger and was bullied by other children, was in for a ride too rough for her to handle.
David Wilson, who served as a psychologist on "Big Brother" — a British reality television series routinely accused of being exploitative and crass — said "Britain's Got Talent" made the other show look saintly by comparison.
Boyle was "a psychological lamb to the slaughter," he wrote in The Daily Mail.
Boyle's spokeswoman said the newly minted star was getting the support she needed from the show's producers.
And Morgan, writing on his blog Friday, assured readers that Boyle was "one tough lady who has had to fight since the day she was born, and there is no way she's going to quit now as some of the papers seem to be suggesting, trust me."