Bermudian horse trainer Marvin Ford has been hailed as a future star after a stunning singing performance on a hit BBC show.
Mr Ford landed in the limelight after he was hired to be a body double in an advertisement — but instead became the Unexpected Star of Michael McIntyre’s Big Show, watched by millions in Britain.
He said: “There was lots of praise, lots of tears. It seemed like everybody who watched it was it tears.”
Mr Ford added: “To me, singing is just something that I do. I didn’t know that my singing touched people the way it did, that it could touch people this way.”
Mr Ford, who left the island to pursue a career as a horse trainer, was signed up for the comedy show’s Unexpected Star segment by his wife, Ellen.
She convinced him that he had been offered a job as a body double for an actor scared of horses in a cowboy-themed TV advert for cologne to be filmed in London — and kept up the pretence for eight months.
Mr Ford was brought on to a fake set, climbed on a horse and said his line — only to have a curtain fall to reveal he was on stage in front of a live audience of 2,500 people.
He returned to the stage at the Theatre Royal an hour later to deliver an emotional version of Lionel Richie classic Stuck on You and won a standing ovation.
Mr Ford said: “It all happened so fast, so quickly. The song was something that they picked out of the repertoire of songs that I do.
“The vocal coach was an absolutely fantastic guy. He really went through it with me, telling me to hit some things a little lighter, hold some notes a little longer.
“He kept pushing me, using as much of the short time that we had to get things it the best place he could.”
Mr Ford was secretly recorded backstage as part of the prank, with Mr McIntyre feeding lines to a group of actors in on the joke.
Viewers saw Mr Ford try to stifle laughter as his fellow actor shouted like a cowboy, did an impression of a zombie and messed up his only line.
Mr Ford said: “When the actor started yee-ha-ING and stuff like that, I thought the guy was crazy.
“Then he jumped on the horse the wrong way, but there was still no doubt in my mind this was real.
“What was going through my mind is I couldn’t believe that they had hired this idiot to do this ad. It was funny. I was sitting there laughing, but of course he was really doing his job to a tee.”
The prank continued with Rachel Riley, from British quiz show Countdown, doing maths on a whiteboard to explain why she was late and the actors praising a foul “fragrance”.
But Mr Ford said he only realised the entire scene was part of the joke after the curtain dropped.He was among the estimated 6 million people who watched Saturday’s show.
He and his family met around 25 friends and neighbours — many enlisted by his wife to pull off the surprise — at a West Sussex scout hall to watch the show.
Mr Ford said: “It was wild watching myself on television. I’m still just struggling to believe that it really happened.
“There was a lot of cheering, and a few tears as well. It was a very, very positive reaction.
“I’m still on a big high from it. My seven-year-old daughter has been watching the video on YouTube in a constant loop. As soon as it’s over, she presses play again.” Mr Ford’s friends in Bermuda hosted their own viewing party at the Daylesford Theatre in Hamilton.
He said: “I wish I could have been there. It was really nice to see so many people come out, supporting me.
Viewers across the UK also praised Mr Ford’s talents on social media and many said he was better than the episode’s professional musical guests.
As soon as the show ended, he was bombarded with calls, tweets and Instagram messages about his performance.
Mr Ford has also been interviewed by the UK’s Spirit FM, and was due to appear for a live interview on BBC Radio Sussex.
But he played it cool when it came to capitalising on his London TV debut.
Mr Ford said: “It is early days. Everything is still up in the air. We need to basically take one day at a time and see what comes in before we start pushing anything out.”