Opinion: The Pros and Cons Of Britain's Got Talent by Martin Cabble-Reid

Kevin Cruise

Following yesterday's opinion piece on Lorraine Bowen's appearance on Britain's Got Talent I was contacted by another performer, Martin Cabble-Reid, who also went from comedy clubs to the show, getting to the semi-finals in 2010 as spoof character Kevin Cruise. Cabble-Reid's cautionary story below suggests that if you are already a circuit performer going on BGT will change your career direction forever and that you may not be able to go back to your old life even if you want to... Bruce Dessau

For more info on Kevin Cruise click here.



I'm a trained actor (Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts) and after getting fed up of auditioning and lack of work I signed up for the Amused Moose Comedy Course in 2009. On completion of the course I created a character called Kevin Cruise. I had worked on various cruise ships and decided to create a character based on that area of entertainment. Kevin was inspired by really bad, cheesy and naff entertainers. I started as a stand-up in full Kevin costume mainly to stand out among the billions of other stand-ups on the London circuit.  I entered a Drag Idol competition as it was open to all and I had moved into the cabaret circuit with song and dance numbers. Kevin Cruise was perfect in this environment as he was wigged up, tanned and sequinned. I ended up representing London and won the Competition.  After that I started to get paid gigs and made a good living on the pub/club circuit around the UK.  
I was then approached by ITV and a researcher from Britain's Got Talent after they had seen me perform at the Two Brewers in Clapham. I made it very clear that I would stay in character throughout the process and that my act actually at times parody's bad X Factor/BGT auditions. They loved it! In my televised audition I even start with the "I was abandoned at birth, never knew my real mother" sob story intact. 
I made sure the TV process worked for me and used it to my best abilities. Making sure all the venues I had worked were waving the Kevin Cruise Flag and full of support. My audition was featured on the first show and was heavily featured on the lead up to that year's series. Result! I managed to hit most newspapers and TV chat shows, keeping in character at all times. By having that exposure I ended up getting a deal with Assembly for Edinburgh (No way could I have afforded to do Edinburgh without it) I did Glastonbury...twice! Charged more for gigs in some cases ten-fold and the biggest coup was sealing 'Panto' as a named star. I've tried to get in Panto For 15 years and unless you are willing to play a small part, understudy or you are a triple threat that can fit into the chorus, a soap star or 'big name' it's impossible to do and make money. 
I remember after my audition aired reading people's comments on the BGT YouTube clip saying things such as 'How does he think he can dance' or 'His fake tan lines are showing what a loser' or my favourite 'This guy is totally nuts and so bad it's good'. From walking into a venue as myself and appearing on stage as Kevin, parodying bad entertainers, everyone was in on the joke. Just like Paul O'Grady turning up and walking on stage as Lily Savage. Even though on the show I stayed in character I did think no one would be fooled…How wrong I was. I purposely dance badly and the fake tan lines are painted on with precision...parody people!!! However my actor friends thought this was brilliant as the general public believed the character was real (some said I must be an amazing actor to pull this off).
Read more of this piece and watch Kevin Cruise on BGT here...


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