Anthony Parsons’ performance on ITV’s superfan show Starstruck went out on Saturday night but it wasn’t until the following day that he was able to watch it on catch-up.
He said: "I had a gig at a club in Leeds that night but I had loads of comments coming through on social media that told me that I’d done good on Starstruck. I’ve got some amazing fans – some of them have been there since I had only 300 followers, now I have 12,000.”
Anthony, who has been a full-time singer for three years since jacking in his job as a security guard, believes that his strong online presence may have attracted scouts for the TV series.
“For some unknown reason they contacted me and asked me if I wanted to audition for Starstruck,” he said. “I was a bit skeptical because I’ve built my presence and all the fans I’ve got on Facebook by being me. When somebody says I’ve got to go and dress up as somebody else and perform, I wondered do I do it or don’t I and then thought, let’s go for it!”
Anthony had to send in a video for his audition and on the strength of that was among seven shortlisted for the three places in Team Olly.
After two practices over several weeks in which they performed a song chosen for them, Anthony and his two team-mates, Luke, 32, and Simon, 26, had a dress rehearsal and costume fitting in readiness for the show’s filming.
Then they had the toughest task in a close-run episode of the series….performing Olly’s chart-topping song in front of the star, who presents the programme, and judges Adam Lambert, Beverley Knight, Jason Manford and Sheridan Smith.
“It was strange singing Dance With Me Tonight to Olly," said Anthony. “I've always done that song at every single gig for years and years but I never thought I’d be singing it to Olly.
"Surprisingly I wasn’t nervous. I perform on stages, big and small, at clubs and pubs every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“The biggest thing for me was being able to go on a TV show and just stand on stage and sing. It was great to have the sound crew around – it’s always just me that’s setting my own equipment up.”
On the show, Olly said about the trio’s performance: “I’m lost for words – best turn of the night." Jason Manford commented: “You three almost matched Olly.”
The only downside for Anthony in his transformation for the programme was having to lose his trademark facial hair. He said: “I’ve had a beard as long as I could grow one and they said you’re going to have to shave your beard so I had to bite the bullet and do it – I hated getting rid of the beard.”
The beard has grown again as has Anthony’s following on social media, where he is in no doubt that Starstruck has boosted his profile. Fans have flocked to his Facebook site to offer their congratulations. Sue Meades posted: “Brilliant, what a great performance. You did yourself and Bolsover proud.” Carolyn Margaret Gath commented: “Loved every minute of it, Anthony. A brilliant Olly Murs, in my eyes you will always be a winner.”
Despite their best efforts Team Olly didn’t make the sing-off stage with that honour going to Team Tina (Turner).