Alesha Dixon’s golden buzzer choice caused controversy when it was revealed on tonight’s Britain’s Got Talent.
Furious viewers did not believe it was fair that Alesha pressed her golden buzzer for Lifford Shillingford, who was revealed to be an old acquaintance.
The 42-year-old singer rose to fame in the late 90s with Artful Dodger – lending his vocals to top hit Please Don’t Turn Me On which reached number four in the UK charts.
Lifford, from South London, appeared on Top Of The Pops and Jools Holland and was on the same gigging circuit as Alesha’s former band Mis-Teeq.
After receiving a standing ovation for his rendition of Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’, Alesha quickly pushed her golden buzzer and sent Lifford through to the live shows.
Angry viewers took to Twitter to slam the golden buzzer decision.
One viewer said: "Mates with one of the judges. FIX!!!!!!"
Another added: "That guy was GREAT! Got to say though, it was obvious that Alesha was going to give him the Golden Buzzer though!"
A third said: "We know each other, have a golden buzzer for singing just alright"…. "
Before his performance Lifford spoke about his rise and fall in the music industry.
He said: "It was great. We got to do things like Jools Holland, Top Of The Pops. We just felt like superstars. Good times."
"It was midway through that I started to get ill with anxiety and depression. Your career, wellbeing family, falling from beneath you. It was one of the most painful things you could imagine."
Simon Cowell noticed the connection between Lifford and Alesha and asked if they knew each other after he walked out on stage.
"I know him yeah," confirmed Alesha with a smile on her face.
Lifford added: "We were on the circuit together. They were headlining. They came on after us. I think they liked them a bit more than us."
The soul singer received a standing ovation from the delighted audience and judges.
He nearly collapsed after Alesha pressed her golden buzzer- sending gold confetti onto the stage and Lifford into the semi-finlals.
Lifford’s wife ran on from the wings to give him a massive hug before Alesha went up to give on herself.
Alesha said: "I feel like it takes courage and bravery in this industry when it knocks you down and you come back.
"For you to be on that stage just singing, raw heart and soul, you deserve this."
Simon agreed with his fellow judge and admitted it "takes guts" to make a comeback.
Alesha added: "If you can’t give someone with a voice like that a break what’s the point in having a golden buzzer.
Mirror TV has contacted Britain’s Got Talent for comment.
*Britain’s Got Talent airs Saturdays on ITV at 8pm
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