BGT's Harrison Pettman talks Simon Cowell criticism and how his dad is now more famous than him

Harrison Pettman
-Credit: (Image: ITV)


Security officer and youth worker Harrison Pettman, 23, made one of the most memorable entrances during the audition stages of Britain’s Got Talent this year. He was sitting in the audience with his family and told them he was getting up to use the toilet – then appeared on stage and stunned them and the audience with his moving version of the song With You from Ghost the musical.

“I said ‘I’m going to the toilet’ because I didn’t know what else to say,” he laughs. His parents’ shock when they saw their son on stage – and his dad Ian’s emotional reaction – became the stuff of memes as his secret was revealed.

“He’s more famous than me now at this point,” Harrison says of his dad. “I’m reading the comments on X/Twitter saying ‘Harrison is okay but Ian should have got the golden buzzer!’ – I’m so proud of my parents, they are fantastic.”

Ian Pettman
Harrison Pettman surprised his dad Ian -Credit:ITV

He does admit that his parents were shocked when they all met up after his winning audition after he had kept them in the dark for weeks. “My dad nearly went for me, but in the best possible way, he went for me as a joke and said ‘I’m going to kill you,’ and then gave me the biggest hug I’ve ever had in my life,” he says.

Harrison went through to the semi final after positive feedback from judges Alesha Dixon, Amanda Holden and Bruno Tonioli, and some criticism from Simon (“you need a lot of practice if this is your dream”) that caused the audience to boo. The singer, however, listened to what Simon had to say and has taken it on board.

“I completely agree with Simon’s reaction,” he says. “I love the fact that people did boo, it was a big boo that almost scared me – but he was spot on. He is an industry professional who has worked with some of the biggest artists in music history, so to say his opinion could be wrong is a terrible thing, but I think everyone is entitled to their opinion.”

Simon Cowell
Simon Cowell criticised Harrison's performance -Credit:ITV

“I agree with him – but nobody is perfect, Beyonce is at the top of her game, but she is not perfect, no artist is perfect, you will never find a perfect human being but the best thing is to keep aiming towards it. So I want to win Simon over.”

Even if Harrison doesn’t win the grand final, he has lots of plans as to what he can do next. “I want to do multiple things, I’d love to get my face out there as much as possible, do some form of modelling, I’d love to create my own albums and create pieces of music for the public that they can connect with - Adele’s doing it, so why can’t a working class boy from Gravesend do it?”

It could be suggested that another possible role for Harrison would be as a contestant in BBC’s The Traitors, since he managed to hoodwink his own family for so long about his audition.

“Listen, I work in security, I know so much stuff, I’m a counsellor, you could not rock me – so come on, get me a job on The Traitors,” he laughs. “Let’s make it happen, BGT’s Harrison Pettman is coming to The Traitors!”