IT WAS just over a year ago that Steve Hewlett stood in front of the panel of judges on Britain’s Got Talent, hoping they would enjoy his ventriloquism act.
Little did he know that a year later, he would have his own 38-stop theatre tour and be mingling with the stars at the National Television Awards (NTA).
The ITV show propelled Steve into the spotlight, and he quickly became popular with the British public, who warmed to his comedy act and cheeky dummies.
The 38-year-old came fourth on Britain’s Got Talent last year, after being voted for by the public to return as a ‘wild card’ having initially been booted off by the judging panel.
He used the publicity to really launch his career as a ventriloquist, having spent 25 years performing on cruise ships and at holiday camps but never quite making it in the national spotlight.
A year to the day after he auditioned for BGT, Steve attended the NTAs as one of the representatives of the show which was up for an award.
Despite losing out to Strictly Come Dancing, Steve said: “My wife Nina and I were sat in the O2, and my clip came on and there was a huge cheer. It was overwhelming.”
He spent much of the night trying to track down Keith Lemon, after creating a dummy character based on the presenter, called Keith Melon.
But he never managed to catch up with him, and said: “Apparently Keith has said it will scare him. The chase is now on!”
Steve said he is planning to create even more characters based on celebrities, after his version of Simon Cowell went down a storm at the semi-finals of BGT.
Having met Joey Essex at the NTAs, he’s considering having a dummy made of The Only Way is Essex star to use during his theatre tour.
Steve returns to his home town of Basingstoke on June 21, where he will perform at The Haymarket theatre.
He said: “I’m really looking forward to coming back. It would be really nice to see some school friends in the audience. People knew me as the weird kid with the dolly, and it would be nice to see them!”
Speaking about living up to expectations, Steve said: “I do get nervous and there’s a lot of pressure to be funny and be as funny as I was on BGT.
“On television it’s three minutes, and on stage, you have to spread that into an hour. I open up with Arthur Lager and then I have an amazing magician who closes the first half. We come together for the finale.”
Speaking about how the tour has gone so far, he said: “The reaction has been phenomenal. Every-one says we should have won (BGT).”
The tour has been so popular that Steve hopes it may be extended into 2015 with more dates added.
But Steve also has big ambitions for his future, with hopes to release a DVD and increase his television work.
He has already filmed an episode of Eggheads, due to air later this year.
Steve is also supporting two Basingstoke charities – Helping Hands for the Blind and Basingstoke Young Carers – when he performs at a charity family fun afternoon on Sunday, March 9.
The event, at Popley Fields Community Centre will run from 1pm to 5pm. Tickets cost £5 or £16 for a family of four, with all proceeds going to the two charities.
Tickets for Steve Hewlett and Friends at The Haymarket can still be bought from the Anvil Arts box office or by going online to anvilarts.org.uk.