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World frets over Susan Boyle’s talent-show finale

U.K. buzzing with concern over whether the 48-year-old churchvolunteer’s nerves will rob her of the victory many feel she deserves

LONDON — Britain and the YouTube-watching world is fretting over the pressure being piled on a Scottish songstress as her final test approaches.

Susan Boyle’s big finale in a TV talent show contest won’t come until Saturday. But the country is buzzing with concern over whether the 48-year-old church volunteer’s nerves will rob her of the victory many feel she deserves.

“Britain’s Got Talent,” the venue for Boyle’s unlikely success, did nothing to dampen the hysteria, with one judge going on national television to say Boyle was so upset by the superheated media coverage she had packed her bags and threatened to quit.

But on Friday her spokeswoman confirmed the final would go ahead as planned.

Boyle became a favourite to win the competition almost immediately after her first appearance, early last month. Her frumpy appearance drew looks of disbelief from the television audience, but her voice silenced the doubters — and turned her into an Internet star.

Her life story — she cared for her widowed mother for years and said she’d never been kissed — also helped win over the world’s media.

Boyle has not performed since Sunday, when she made it through to the finals. But that hasn’t kept her off Britain’s front pages: “Boyling Point,” was the Daily Mirror’s headline Friday. “Susan Axe Threat,” claimed The Sun. “Fears For TV Talent Star Susan,” the Daily Express warned.

Concerns have been sparked by reports of erratic behaviour. Boyle lost her cool after being harassed by a pair of journalists outside her London hotel Wednesday, her spokeswoman said, speaking on condition of anonymity because she represents all the contestants.

Earlier, a media report claimed that witnesses saw Boyle make an obscene gesture at a hotel television set when judge Piers Morgan lavished praise on fellow contestant Shaheen Jafargholi, 12, during another semifinal broadcast.

Morgan, himself a former tabloid editor, took to the airwaves and the Internet to defend the singer.

“Susan Boyle has never experienced anything like this and is like a frightened rabbit in headlights,” Morgan wrote on his blog Thursday. “I am calling today for everyone to just give her a break.”

Others in the media raised concerns that Boyle, who had learning difficulties when she was younger and was bullied by other children, was in for a ride too rough for her to handle.

• • •

The performance finale of “Britain’s Got Talent” will air live on British TV Saturday from 3:20-4:50 p.m. EDT. The winner will be declared Sunday on the program airing 3:30-5 p.m. EDT.

But unless you live in the United Kingdom or have an especially fancy satellite hookup, your options to watching are essentially limited to the Internet.

— YOUTUBE: It’s been good enough for more than 60 million viewers thus far. Videos of Boyle’s performance will be uploaded both by the show and by users immediately afterward.

— THE OFFICIAL WEB SITE: Videos will also rapidly be posted at: http://talent.itv.com/

— HOP A FLIGHT TO LONDON: It will be easy to find there. Ratings have shown that half of those watching TV at the time of “Britain’s Got Talent” in the U.K. have been tuning into the show. Last minute round-trip flights from New York to London were starting upwards of $1,000 as of Thursday night.

 
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