Britain’s Got Talent winner Jai McDowall loving Worthing panto

Britain’s Got Talent winner Jai McDowall will star as the Beast in this year’s spectacular family pantomime Beauty and the Beast, running at the Pavilion Theatre, Worthing until Sunday, January 2.

Jai McDowall
Jai McDowall

It’s all happening in a significant year for Jai – ten years exactly since that great BGT triumph.

Jai first stepped into the spotlight as a contestant on series five of the show. He fast became a firm favourite across the nation, gaining a legion of loyal fans enraptured by his classical renditions of pop hits.

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His powerful vocals secured his victory and he went on to win the series with an emotional rendition of the Josh Groban hit To Where You Are. Millions of viewers watched as Jai claimed his prize, performing in front of Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal at the 2011 Royal Variety Performance.

“You think ten years! Where did that go? It really doesn’t seem that long but that’s good because I’ve done an awful lot in those ten years. That’s why it doesn’t seem long. And the fact that that period of time is so significant still and so fresh still is really positive.

“It just doesn’t seem that long ago but it is great to think back about it and to talk about it. I’m saying that I remember it but at the time it was a bit of a blur really. It is only clear when I think back. I’m just someone who says yes to everything and I just wandered through. I went through the rounds and I won the show.”

Which is maybe where the bigger challenge starts. Jai suspects it is harder to stay the course having won than it is to win in the first place.

“It was tough for me coming off the show. I didn’t know the industry. I went from being a support worker to being thrown into an industry I knew nothing about. It was a trial by fire but I do think that’s the best way. You learn by being hands on. It was such a massive learning curve but I wouldn’t have changed anything. I could have had a management company take me on and tell me to do this and that and this and that but I have learned myself and it really has been such a great journey.”

A journey which now brings him to panto in Worthing.

“I have done lots of panto. I have worked out this will be my eighth. I should know what I’m doing by now!”

The first one was offered him: “And I thought ‘Well I have never done panto before.’ I mulled it over for a couple of days and then I thought about it some more and thought ‘You know what, I’m going to do it!’ It was at Windsor and I’ve never been to Windsor before and as I say I am a yes man. I will probably say yes to pretty much anything in life though sometimes it does get me into some sticky situations! But I really love panto and I have missed it when we couldn’t do it. The last one I did live was in 2019 but I did do a couple of virtual pantos this year. It was good but it was panto with no audience and you need an audience. You’ve got nothing to feed off. It is just like telling jokes into an empty room. It was good and the cast was great but it’s lovely to be doing this now with a really lovely cast and I think the theatre here is absolutely fantastic. I performed here in 2019.”

Beauty and the Beast: The Pantomime runs from Friday November 26 to Sunday January 2 at the Pavilion Theatre, Marine Parade, Worthing. Tickets are available from £10. For more information or to book your tickets visit www.wtam.uk or call the WTM box office on 01903 206206.