In 2010, Janey Cutler entered the audition stage of Britain’s Got Talent. The 80-year-old great-grandmother from Wishaw, Scotland had never before performed on such a stage, having only previously sung in pubs and clubs. But, at the urging of her friends, she had decided to give the talent show a go. “Better late than never,” she told the cameras before her performance.
Cutler was somewhat frail as she made her way to the stage. Indeed, she had to be helped by Ant McPartlin, who could see that she was struggling to get there on her own. Once on the stage, Simon Cowell had to repeat a couple of his questions so that she could hear them. On revealing her age, the crowd cheered encouragingly, in admiration for her bravery in taking to the stage. Cutler informed the judges that she would be singing Edith Piaf’s classic song “No Regrets”.
As soon as she started singing, Cutler’s quiet speaking voice transformed into a raw and powerful performance. The Glaswegian audience were brought to their feet long before the end of the song, roaring with delight as the song finished. Amanda Holden admitted that she hadn’t been expecting such an accomplished performance, complimenting her on her “massive voice”. She received a yes from all the judges and she was through to the next round.
Cutler went on to reach the final of the series, but she lost out to the dance group Spellbound. She got through the semi-finals after winning the public vote with her stirring version of Shirley Bassey’s “This is My Life”. After the series, she was part of the Britain’s Got Talent tour.
Sadly, Cutler died the following year, aged 82. As would be expected, given her huge popularity, a very large number of friends and family turned out for her funeral. Family was a great source of pride for Cutler, and she was the mother of seven, grandmother of thirteen, and great-grandmother to four. For the British public, her emotional renditions of classic songs will live long in the memory.
As her youngest son, Drew, said at her funeral, “Nineteen million viewers took in the Britain’s Got Talent final and more than 13 million have watched her on the internet. A truly remarkable achievement.”