Britain's Got Talent viewers branded the show "unfair" and "fixed" after judges handed the coveted Golden Buzzer to American singer Loren Allred, who appeared on the soundtrack for The Greatest Showman.
The 32-year-old performer told the judging panel she initially recorded reference vocals for the hit movie, but actor Rebecca Ferguson suggested they use her for the final version of ballad Never Enough.
Allred then brought the house down at the auditions with her impassioned performance of the song, prompting Amanda Holden to press the Golden Buzzer and send Allred directly through to the live shows.
Holden said the performance was "just unbelievable" and Simon Cowell added that it was "so well-deserved" for her to receive the recognition.
He added: "For you to kind of reveal yourself to the world, it was actually one of the most incredible audition moments I have ever experienced. I'm speechless."
But not everyone was so thrilled by Allred's performance, with some viewers declaring that her status as a professional singer on such a high-profile movie should disqualify her from the show.
The Greatest Showman earned $435m (£333m) at the worldwide box office when it was released in 2017, with the soundtrack album spending 11 consecutive weeks at the top of the UK Albums Chart.
Given her success away from the programme, viewers on social media accused Allred of "cheating" and accused the show of being "fixed" and "unfair" on other acts.
"This woman is already very much in the industry and does not need this leg up," wrote one.
Hold up... This woman is the actual singer that sung never enough from the greatest showman.
That's Cheating... That's unfair .... #BGT
— Jay Baker (@JayHBaker94) April 16, 2022
A professional singer?
— ISK (@IskTwm) April 16, 2022
I KNEW someone was going to golden buzzer and that’s soo unfair this woman is already VERY much in the industry and does not need this leg up, ok it’s good people are seeing the face behind the talent from the greatest showman but come onnn #BGT #BritainsGotTalent
— laura gabell (@lauragabell) April 16, 2022
loren allred is an incredible singer, but it’s really unfair of her to go on bgt and get the golden buzzer when she’s a professional singer and is already known for singing ‘never enough’ from the greatest showman
— paige 🦋 (@noahcentineosgf) April 16, 2022
Ahead of her appearance in the show, Allred told The Sun that she is "still trying to make a name for myself" in the music industry as an unsigned artist.
She added: "Even though I have spent a lot of years in the music industry, people don’t know who I am.
"Over all these years I’ve been fighting for my chance to be known and to make it.
"The opportunity to sing Never Enough evolved from being a session singer in the choir, and even though the song was a big success, people still think that the actress sang it.
"I have never gotten the opportunity to tell my story."
A spokeswoman for Britain's Got Talent added: "Whilst most people will have heard the infamous Greatest Showman track, Loren is not a household name, and she deserves her spot on the BGT stage. We hope that such articles will not count against somebody who is well deserving of this opportunity.
"It’s fantastic that Loren is now able to step out and stand in her own right to be the face, and not just the voice, of one of the most well-known tracks of all time."
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The Britain's Got Talent auditions are set to continue with a second episode on Sunday night, following Saturday's launch show.
This is the first series of the ITV variety spectacular since 2020, with the 2021 series cancelled due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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