Britain's Got Talent: After the final, Sussex inspirational teacher Tom Ball gives his verdict on the BGT judges and explains why he owes his singing talent to Les Miserables - and his mum

West Sussex teacher Tom Ball might have just missed out on winning this year's Britain's Got Talent but as the comments on Twitter and from the celebrity judges have proved he won the hearts of a nation.

Tom from Mid Sussex stormed through the BGT auditions and semi-finals with his amazing singing voice to make it into third place in the public vote in the Final on Sunday June 5, 2022.

This inspirational 23-year-old was himself inspired by his parents’ work ethic; and his gift for singing was first discovered by his mum when she used to pick him up from school and they would sing along to a recording of Les Miserables.

No wonder it is his dream to perform in that particular musical.

Sussex singing sensation Tom Ball was living the dream on BGT

"Oh yes, 100 per cent. If I ever get to go into Les Mis that will be me done. I will be happy. I don't need to do anything else. I just want to be in Les Mis - one night! Ideally as Valjean but I know that would be a bit of an ask!"

It is clear that he has the gift and the focus for such a role – but now he needs the next big break.

After the four celebrity judges - Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams - heaped praise on him for a pitch-perfect rendition of 'I Who Have Nothing' in the Final, Tom admitted he had nothing in the pipeline as regards a future performance.

"So what comes next? I'm not too sure. I genuinely don't know. I'm hoping that I get another chance to perform at some point and I get to continue to make music and sing. But at the moment I've got nothing concrete, nothing planned," Tom said.

"It depends who was watching – if there was anyone who liked me enough to give me an opportunity."

Amanda Holden will certainly be hoping Tom gets snapped up by a big show. In her judge’s comments live on ITV she rashly pledged: "That was an unbelievable, unforgettable performance. If you are not at the London Palladium by the end of the year I will eat my knickers!"

Tom, who must be the nicest guy we have ever interviewed said: "I'm hoping she doesn't have to carry through that promise!"

So what was BGT like for this popular teacher?

"Genuinely it's been a bit of a dream. That's the best way I can describe it. It really hasn't landed with me yet that I was on TV and that I'm getting this amount of messages of absolute love.

"It's crazy but every single person I've met and worked with at BGT has been so lovely and supportive. There is a massive, massive team behind the scenes. You really don't see the number of people they have got there. I don't think the crew gets enough recognition. They were absolutely amazing."

And his verdict on the judges?

"They were absolutely genuine. We had waiting areas and our own little rooms where we could relax and eat our dinners and David [Walliams] was out there having chats with us all. He came up on stage before the cameras went live to wish us all luck. David is - well they all are - really genuine, lovely people. I spoke to all of them individually which is a bit of a dream - I'm not going to lie!"

Tom had said he was a big fan of Les Miserables ever since singing the songs on the way home from school, which had caused this newspaper to speculate in advance of the Final that he might sing 'Bring Him Home'.

"It was one I was considering doing for a little while but through discussions with the team at Britain's Got Talent we thought it was probably best to stick with the same kind of genre I had done at previous performances - more of a James Bond-esque theme. It would have been a real gamble to stray from the format."

The final note he sang drew enormous praise. Alesha Dixon said: "When I look back it was like you were in your third gear in the auditions, you went into fourth gear in the semi-finals and then you just moved into fifth gear. The way you were grounded and centred in that performance to reach that pinnacle moment at the end was perfection. Congratulations Tom - you smashed it!"

But Tom had not been confident a week earlier that he would smash it.

"I was a little bit worried about it I am not going to deny. About a week before I had a singing lesson and it wasn't going as well as I was hoping and so I was a little bit anxious about whether that note was going to happen. But eventually about half a week ago I thought, no that's fine I've got it. It should be OK."

David Walliams had promised he was going to found the Tom Ball fan club and be the first paid-up member. Was Tom going to hold him to that?

"I will try!" he laughed.

At the end of the Final, he told hosts Ant and Dec that he would be back at school teaching on Tuesday June 7.

"After my first audition the students went a little bit mad - they were energetic and lovely. It was all so good and positive. I imagine this first week is going to be something similar with students coming up to me. It's going to be quite difficult getting those lessons started, because I am sure they have got 101 questions. But it's important to respond to them."

His pupils had been in awe when Tom had spoken to them a couple of weeks earlier to reveal his BGT dream. He said to them then: "To follow your dreams takes hard work, dedication and sacrifice. I am not going to lie to you, you will face setbacks in your life. You have got to take risks and aim high."As well as your teacher I have another passion in my life. When I was your age, I sat in a school like this. I wanted to be a singer. I know I don’t look Iike I could stand on stage and be the next Justin Bieber, but recently I took a risk and I auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent."When I step out on stage live to the nation I am stepping out for you to prove that if you have a dream you have got to take a chance on yourself. Believe in you and it can change your life forever.”

No other family member has gone on to sing in the way that Tom has - although he said his mum and his sister had great voices. "The closest person in my family who does sing is my grandma, in a church choir."

The family will soon count an extra member – Tom’s new wife. His fiancee Hannah was in the audience. "We do have a date for a wedding. It is October this year. We are getting married in Bolney [Sussex]."

Simon Cowell said it all beautifully at the end of the Final: "You're interesting, you're talented, you're a nice person - I mean you are amazing."

Tom is now crossing his fingers for that West End break that Simon also referenced.

But none will be hoping more than Amanda Holden that he gets to sing at the London Palladium before the year is out …