August 31, 2008

I’M No Simon Cowell Says Robbie’s Father

By Martin Tideswell

The 40 finalists in Stoke's Top Talent can rest assured that at least one of the judges will be rooting for them when they take to the stage at The Regent for next week's heats.

Entertainer Pete Conway knows only too well how daunting appearing before big audiences can be.

One of the first winners of TV talent show New Faces in 1973, Pete says he won't be a Simon Cowell figure when it comes to passing judgment.

He said: "I haven't got it in me to be too harsh on the finalists. I know just how tough it will be.

"And besides, they've got this far. That means each and every act is a winner in my book."

The 61-year-old father of pop superstar Robbie Williams, who lives in Birches Head, is one of a number of judges.

Stoke's Top Talent was the brainchild of stage star Jonathan Wilkes who will be hosting each show.

Pete, a close friend, will be judging along with Jonny's wife, choreographer Nikki Wheeler, TV presenter Nick Hancock, entrepreneur Mo Chaudry, panto producer Kevin Wood, The Sentinel's Editor-in-Chief Mike Sassi and Assistant Editor Martin Tideswell.

Pete said: "It's a fantastic concept. I'm so pleased that Stoke- on-Trent is staging a talent show on this scale."

So what will Pete be looking for?

"It's all about stage presence, for me," he said. "My lad Robbie has got that in spades. Whatever people say about his music he's a great entertainer and, ultimately, we're looking for someone to entertain us."

The winner of Stoke's Top Talent will receive a professional contract to appear in this year's Regent Theatre pantomine - Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, alongside Jonny Wilkes. They will also receive a cheque for pounds1,000 from competition sponsors The Sentinel.

The heats for Stoke's Top Talent take place between Tuesday and Friday with the grand final on Saturday night.

Each night two winners will be chosen by the judging panel to go through to the grand final. The Saturday night line-up of 10 will be completed by a public vote.

Members of the audience over the four heat nights will choose their top act and Sentinel readers will be able to vote for their favourite act (which hasn't already made it through to the final) by logging on to The Sentinel's website from Monday at 9am.

For ticket information contact The Regent booking office on 0870 060 6649.

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