reality tv

10 years ago, Susan Boyle stunned in this audition. Then life as she knew it unravelled.

A decade ago, an unassuming 47-year-old called Susan Boyle stood before Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and Piers Morgan at an audition for Britain’s Got Talent in Glasgow, Scotland.

When the audition aired on TV, viewers of the show were collectively watching through their fingers by the time she took the stage, on the presumption she was going to be terrible.

After all, she’d had the ‘comedy’ music edit that pokes fun at the more ‘colourful’ contestants, she’d spoken about having ‘never been kissed’, and she lived alone in a small Scottish town with her cat, Pebbles.

Watch: A decade after her unforgettable rendition of I Dreamed A Dream, Susan Boyle performed the song once again on Britain’s Got Talent. Post continues after video…

Then she opened her mouth to sing.

Susan’s rendition of ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ from Les Misérables stunned everyone. Simon Cowell’s face is still a picture, 10 years later.

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The moment Simon Cowell saw stars ($$$) in his eyes. Source: YouTube
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The audition changed everything for Susan, who quickly earned her own showbiz moniker: SuBo.

She became the most talked-about person in the UK overnight, and, thanks to YouTube, her audition clip went viral worldwide. Soon she was being asked to appear on morning shows across the globe, even landing an interview with Oprah.

Her audition clip has now amassed nearly 233 million views to date.

But even though it appeared that the ultimate fairytale was playing out before our very eyes, the reality was very different as SuBo grappled with the relentless media attention and pressure that comes with being in the spotlight.

She entered rehab centre, The Priory, after losing the Britain’s Got Talent final to dance troupe, Diversity.

The production company was accused of exploiting Susan after they stated the reason she was in rehab was because she was suffering from exhaustion.

The tabloid press latched onto the notion Susan was ‘brain damaged’ because she believed at the time she'd suffered mild learning difficulties as a result of being briefly deprived of oxygen during birth.

Mamamia’s daily news podcast The Quicky will get you up to speed on what you need to know today. Post continues below.

In 2013, Susan revealed this was a misdiagnosis, and she actually has Asperger's.  "I always knew it was an unfair label," she told The Guardian, revealing that she'd been diagnosed a year earlier but kept it a secret. "Now I have a clearer understanding of what's wrong and I feel relieved and a bit more relaxed about myself."

Despite the continued pressure she felt,  Susan got to work on her album, ‘I Dreamed A Dream’.  It was the fastest-selling UK debut album of all-time and the best opening week for a debut artist in the US in over a decade.

She's now sold more than 25 million records worldwide and is reportedly worth $33 million. About to release her eighth album, SuBo has also been nominated for Grammys, Billboard Awards and has won a World Music Award.

Susan has sang for Queen Elizabeth II and released best-selling memoir, The Woman I Was Born To Be. Not bad for a reality TV contestant, right?

Susan Boyle with her very own Madame Tussauds waxwork. Source: Getty
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But it’s certainly not been an easy road for Susan. She’s twice been targeted by criminals in her hometown of Blackburn. A man broke into her house in 2010 and in 2017, it was reported she’d been attacked by youths. It's hardly surprising SuBo needed some time out.

Susan Boyle 2019

SuBo kept out of the spotlight for five years, making her comeback in 2019. She came full circle, so to speak, appearing on the same franchise that showcased her incredible voice in the first place, America's Got Talent: The Champions.

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Susan Boyle appears on America's Got Talent: The Champions. Source: Getty

Ahead of the final, she gave an extremely candid interview to The Sun, reflecting on what's changed during her last decade in the spotlight.

"I'm managing things a lot better now. It was a slow process,” she told the publication.  

"It can be difficult to talk about mental health issues, as there is a kind of fear about that.

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"Years ago there used to be a stigma about it but now there is more knowledge, more expertise, and talking about things makes it a lot easier. A lot easier."

Perhaps most poignant of all is the fact this global superstar hasn't changed at all.

Even though she bought a five-bedroom property, Susan still lives in the modest council house in Blackburn where she was brought up.

“I’m still in my parents’ house, my niece has got the plush house,” she told The Sun.

“It’s good to be in your mum’s house as well, there’s a lot of nice memories in my mum’s. I sort of feel she’s present here, somehow.”

Susan's unforgettable first audition on Britain's Got Talent 10 years ago also happened to be the first time she'd sang in public since her mother passed away in 2007.

In April 2019, SuBo returned to Britain's Got Talent to sing the song that made her famous once again.

Following the performance, judges Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams gave Susan a standing ovation.

"You've still got the magic, Susan," Simon Cowell said after giving her a hug on stage.

"Thank you for coming back."

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