Interview extra

Edward Upcott, The Royal Variety PerformanceNovember 25, 2010

Edward Upcott is mostly recognised as the gymnast who was thrown over the judges heads in the final of Britain’s Got Talent. Now, the 19-year-old, who won the 2010 Senior Acrobatic World Championship, is preparing for this year’s Royal Variety Performance, alongside his Spelbound group members…

Congratulations again on Spelbound winning Britain’s Got Talent earlier this year. Have your lives changed a lot since then?
I guess they have really. We won the show, which was a bit surreal, and then we went on the tour, which was great and completely different to what we’re used to as performing gymnasts. Then we had the World Championships as well, which we won. If we’d just won the World Championships this year, that would have been incredible enough on its own. But to scoop Britain’s Got Talent as well, it’s all just been amazing.

How are your rehearsals going for The Royal Variety Performance — you said you’re working on something really big?
We’re always rehearsing and we’re working alongside people who are involved with the BBC and also the Royal Variety, so it’s adding a bit of variety to our performance.

Do you think you’ll be more nervous performing at The Royal Variety Performance than you were on the Britain’s Got Talent final?
When I’m performing with Spelbound, I don’t really get nervous. It’s exciting and thrilling. But I do get nervous when I’m competing in competitions, when it really does matter and everything is dependent on what you do on that floor. When we’re performing, we’re not being judged technically, so if we make a mistake, we can always just cover it up and turn it into a performance.

Do you have any pre-show routines or rituals that you go through?
Not really. We just warm up and make sure we know what we’re doing. Then we just go for it.

Don’t you worry about how dangerous your act is?
I’ve been doing it for 12 years now. It’s so long that I’m used to it. I’ve been brought up like that, so doing it now is just like every day life.

Has anything ever gone wrong?
Nothing’s ever gone wrong enough to cause an injury, touch wood. But we’re only human and things do go wrong every now and then. But not too drastically.

Could someone be replaced at short notice if an injury did occur?
There are lots of other gymnasts in the gym who aren’t in Spelbound and I’m sure they would be able to slot into someone’s place. Luckily in all the years we’ve been doing it, no one’s had any major injuries.

Do you all contribute ideas towards the routines?
We all try to come up with ideas in the artistry and technical side, as well as the costume and make-up. But our choreographer, Neil Griffiths, has the main ideas.

You’ve already said you’d like to meet Cheryl Cole. Who else are you looking forward to meeting?

Prince Charles, N-Dubz and Take That. I watched Robbie Williams perform at Help For Heroes and I went away thinking that he’s someone who you could just idolize!

Did you get to meet Robbie?
No, he was treated a bit like a God and kept away from us [laughs]. But we did meet The Saturdays, Alesha Dixon and Michael McIntyre. And we’ve been on the Paul O’Grady Show.

Earlier this year, you were crowned World Champion at the Senior Acrobatic World Championships. Does this mean you’re aiming to complete in the London Olympics?
No, because acrobatics still isn’t an Olympic sport. General gymnastics like bars, beams and rings are. But when we work with partners, that’s not an Olympic sport. The events are actually decided eight years before each ceremony. So the earliest it could get in would be 2020. There was some kind of online petition, I think.

Does your asthma affect your training?
Not too much. It used to at the beginning and when we’re warming up and doing lots of running — that sometimes gets it going. But I’ve been doing it for such a long time now that I know how to keep it under control.

You’re not the only one in your family involved with gymnastics, are you?
They’re not in Spelbound, but two of my siblings are involved at our gym and they’re both in younger age groups. My sister was crowned European Champion for her age group last year, and my little brother has just competed in the British tournament.

Is there an ultimate ambition for you?
I’d love to be part of Cirque du Soleil. I’ve been offered contracts with them before but I’ve had to turn them down because of my training.

By Elaine Penn



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