A man from Cleethorpes who has been an Olly Murs tribute act for 10 years will appear on ITV’s Starstruck next week, but not as his favourite pop star.
James Hutchinson, 32, has lived in Cleethorpes for most of his life, but now works at the Body Shop head office in Littlehampton in West Sussex. At weekends James loves performing as Only Olly – his Olly Murs tribute act.
Not even getting a ‘no’ from Simon Cowell on Britain’s Got Talent in 2012 could stop James from following his dreams. He told The Lincolnite it was a dream come true when he was successful in applying for Starstruck, and the episode he is on is due to air at 8.30pm on Saturday, March 12.
Starstruck sees “ordinary members of the public with an exceptional talent team up to transform into some of the world’s biggest music icons”.
The show is hosted by James’ idol Olly Murs, with a panel of four judges – North Lincolnshire singer and actress Sheridan Smith, Queen frontman Adam Lambert, comedian Jason Manford and musician Beverley Knight.
James applied to be on the show back in March 2020 before having three auditions over Zoom in November of that year.
The auditions included giving a bio about himself and choosing two songs to perform. James chose ‘Wrapped Up’ by Olly Murs and Whitney Houston’s ‘I Have Nothing’.
After the applicants were narrowed down to six people, James then attended an in-person audition in London in February 2021. He had to give a performance of the person he will sing as on the show, which he is not allowed to reveal until after it has aired – all he did say is, he won’t be Olly Murs!
The six singers were then narrowed down to four before the quartet sang together in different combinations. Three places were then given on the show, with one reserve.
James, who also writes and records his own music, told The Lincolnite: “The talent at the auditions was incredible. It was a dream come true to get through as I have always wanted to do something like this.
“I did Britain’s Got Talent in 2012 and had an audition in front of the judges, including Simon Cowell. I got a ‘no’ from him, but that didn’t stop me from following my dreams.
“Walking into the studios was incredible. The studios are massive in an airfield in Bovingdon, where they film Dancing On Ice and other shows, and it was one of the biggest stages I’ve ever performed on, it was amazing.
“I’m a bit nervous and also excited [to see it on TV next week]. Just being able to still perform in lockdown was amazing and I can’t wait to show people what is probably the biggest secret I’ve ever had to keep.”
On the show James will perform individually and in groups. One of the groups will progress through to a sing off, with one individual then getting through to a final, and you’ll have to watch to find out how James gets on!
He added: “I can only describe the experience as a dream come true to actually be there performing in front of the celebrity judges. I’ve always wanted to perform and do this kind of thing, so to do it for a show with five million viewers each week was amazing.
“I’ve always been a big fan of Beverley Knight and been to seen her sing. The roles were reversed and I got to sing to her, and it was surreal seeing the judges in person.
“Adam Lambert was an interesting character and really lovely. I’m a big fan of Jason and his comedy, and Sheridan is popular in her singing and acting, so it was great to perform to them all. What a great line-up of judges it was!
However, it was not the first time James had met Olly as he has come face-to-face with his idol a few times before. He said: “It was great to meet him again and we had a really good conversation after the performance.”
James said the support from back home in Cleethorpes, and from family and friends, has been fantastic.
He added: “I know they are looking forward to seeing me perform. To have my parents at the TV studios was amazing. All the other contestants have been so supportive to each other. If I can just come away with the friends I’ve met on the show that is a winning prize on its own.”
Meanwhile, James will perform as Only Olly in Lincolnshire this summer on the following dates:
- July 8 – Beachcomber Cleethorpes
- July 9 – Tattershall Lakes
- July 16 – The Old Exchange, Grimsby