Britain’s Got Talent was subjected to controversy once again at the weekend as it emerged that Alesha Dixon pressed her golden buzzer act for an "old acquaintance".
Fuming viewers did not believe it was fair that Alesha pressed her golden buzzer for Lifford Shillingford, who rose to fame in the late 90s with Artful Dodger.
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.
Since the show aired on Saturday, Alesha has insisted that they aren’t friends and haven’t spoken for years.
And, appearing on Lorraine today, Lifford went one step further – and said that they had only ever had a "30 second conversation" in Ayia Napa back in 2001!
Lorraine Kelly asked him: "So what’s all this about you being boozing buddies?"
"I saw a couple of tweets about it… it’s weird," he replied awkwardly. "We had a 30 second conversation in 2001 in Ayia Napa."
He revealed that they had both been gigging when they bumped into one another.
"Literally, I was coming off-stage, I was sweaty and I had steak and onions for dinner so I wasn’t trying to get too close to her," he said. "She was like, ‘I love your song’ and I was like, ‘I love you! I hope you have a good gig, I hope it goes well! And that was it."
Lifford said that they "know each other’s music" and that they support each other’s music.
He added: "So it’s weird to say that she would press her buzzer for me because it kind of discredits her."
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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