Paul Potts

Paul Potts
Potts at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival
Background information
Born (1970-10-13) 13 October 1970 (age 51)
Bristol, England[1]
Occupation(s) Tenor
Years active 2007–present
Website Edit this at Wikidata

Paul Potts (born 13 October 1970) is a Welsh[2][3] tenor. In 2007, he won the first series of ITV's Britain's Got Talent with his performance of "Nessun dorma", an aria from Puccini's opera Turandot. As a singer of operatic pop music, Potts recorded the album One Chance, which topped sales charts in 13 countries.[4] Before winning Britain's Got Talent, Potts was a manager at Carphone Warehouse. He had been a Bristol city councillor from 1996 until 2003, and performed in amateur opera from 1999 to 2003.

Early life

Potts was born on 13 October 1970[5] in Kingswood, Bristol, and raised in nearby Fishponds by his father Roland, a bus driver, and mother, Yvonne (née Higgins), a supermarket cashier.[citation needed] He has two brothers and one sister.

Paul Potts attended The Boys Brigade as a boy at Argyle Morley Church for the third battalion Bristol

Potts attended St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School, where he developed his love of singing.[6] He also sang with the choir at Chester Park Junior School and with the choirs at several Bristol churches, including Christ Church. Potts said in interviews that he had been bullied in school, and that experience may have made him lack self-confidence. He has also said that his voice had always been a source of solace in the past when he was bullied.[7]

After he left school in 1987, Potts had various jobs including working at Waitrose and Tesco; he also may have worked part-time at Debenhams. At the time of his Britain's Got Talent appearance, he was working in The Carphone Warehouse.

In 1993, Potts earned a B.A. (Bachelor of Arts) Honours degree in Humanities from University College Plymouth St Mark & St John.[8] In 1996, Potts was elected in a council by-election to represent the Eastville ward of Bristol City Council as a Liberal Democrat councillor;[9] he was the youngest member of Bristol City Council and served until 2003.[6][10]

After winning Britain's Got Talent, Potts took a six-month sabbatical from his job and resigned on 5 March 2008.[11]

Singing career

Potts first sang opera in the minor roles of the Prince of Persia and the Herald in Puccini's Turandot for Bath Opera, an amateur company, in 1999. He then performed leading roles on four occasions: Don Basilio in Mozart's Marriage of Figaro in 2000; Don Carlos in Verdi's Don Carlos in 2001; Don Ottavio in Mozart's Don Giovanni in 2003; and Radames in Verdi's Aida in 2003.[7][12][13] He also performed the role of the Chevalier des Grieux in Puccini's Manon Lescaut for the Southgate Opera Company in London, an amateur company, in May 2003. Additionally, he sang with a small ensemble from the Royal Philharmonic in front of an audience of 15,000 and toured northern Italy as a soloist as part of his music classes there.[12]

In several interviews, Potts revealed that he performed Aida despite doctors' wishes to remove an adrenal tumour they had discovered during his illness from a burst appendix, and shortly after the tumour surgery performed Manon Lescaut. Potts broke his collarbone and suffered whiplash in a bicycle accident in 2003. The mishap and financial difficulties that followed led him to enter Britain's Got Talent despite not having sung in years.[14]

Britain's Got Talent

Potts auditioned for Simon Cowell's new talent show Britain's Got Talent at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff, Wales on 17 March 2007. The audition was televised on ITV in the UK on 9 June 2007.[15] Potts sang the full rendition of Giacomo Puccini's "Nessun dorma," which was condensed for broadcast. His rendition of the aria brought looks of awe from the judges. Potts received a standing ovation from the audience of 2,000 people. The YouTube video clip from the show has had more than 188 million views as of June 2021.[16]

In the semi-final on 14 June 2007, Potts performed the main verses of Andrea Bocelli's "Time To Say Goodbye."[17] He progressed to the final after receiving the highest public vote in that show.[18] He performed "Nessun dorma" again for his finale on 17 June 2007, as well as an encore after he won the competition. Potts defeated the bookmakers' co-favourite Connie Talbot, and received the highest percentage of two million votes cast to win £100,000. He then performed Sarah Brightman's "Nella Fantasia" at the Royal Variety Performance on 3 December 2007, in front of Queen Elizabeth II.

On 3 December 2012, he was invited to celebrate 100 years of the Royal Variety Performance alongside Spelbound, Diversity and 2009 finalist Stavros Flatley. Together they performed a dance routine finishing with Potts singing "Nessun Dorma" with Diversity dancing to the song.

Questions about amateur status

Shortly before the Britain's Got Talent final in June 2007, the programme was criticised for representing Potts as a simple mobile-phone salesman, when he had appeared with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and had plans for a summer tour with it. He was accused of being an experienced performer who was reaping the benefit of professional training.[19][12] Potts responded that he had never worked as a professional singer. He had paid for lessons, but everyone taking part in the show had had some training. He had not claimed to be untutored, but had never performed any concert for pay and was therefore an amateur. He also said that the Pavarotti masterclass he attended in Italy was paid for from his own savings. His comments were confirmed by the singing teacher who gave him lessons until Potts gave up in 2003, due to illness.[19]

After Britain's Got Talent

In the United States, he was profiled on a National Public Radio programme called Day to Day,[20] and appeared live on NBC's programme Today.[21]

In July 2007, Potts performed "Nessun dorma" at a Katherine Jenkins concert at Margam Park, Wales.[22] On 16 July 2007, his debut album One Chance was released in the UK, and claimed the No. 1 spot in the UK Album Chart the following week. In December 2007, Prime Minister Gordon Brown presented Potts with a platinum disc for having sold 2,000,000 copies of his album.[citation needed]

On 13 December 2007, he performed in Leipzig in the live television broadcast of the 13th annual José Carreras Gala, accompanied by the Deutsches Filmorchester Babelsberg under the direction of Scott Lawton.[23] In January he began a series[24] of 97 concerts in 85 cities across 23 countries. This included three outdoor classical music concerts with the Finnish violinist Linda Brava and the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra at Sofiero Palace, Sundbyholms Castle and Slottskogsvallen from 24 to 26 July.[25] In the semi-finals of the 2009 series of Britain's Got Talent, Potts appeared in a comeback performance.

Potts was invited to appear on an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show about YouTube, a site where clips of his performances had been viewed over 92 million times as of April 2012;[26] as of April 2009, his first appearance on Britain's Got Talent was the fourth most viewed YouTube video in the UK. On 24 November 2007, Potts was interviewed on the National Public Radio programme Weekend Edition. On 15 August 2008, he performed before the German football season opening match between Bayern Munich and Hamburger SV in front of 69,000 visitors as well as on 2 September 2008 during the farewell game for Oliver Kahn.

In July 2008, Deutsche Telekom began using a TV and cinema advertisement centred on his Britain's Got Talent performance.[27] In August 2008, he did a now famous duet with Daniel Powter on the Wolfbaggin' Tour. In October 2008, Paul Potts sang in Japanese TV advertisements for Ryukakusan Direct throat medicine.[28] Potts received two nominations at the Echo Awards 2009 in Germany: Best International Male Artist and Album of the Year. He won the 2009 Echo Award for Best International Male Artist on 21 February 2009. On 22 April 2009, Potts was the guest co-host on the Australian television programme The Morning Show with Kylie Gillies. Expanding his talent to the online world, Paul Potts recently performed an exclusive in studio performance for AOL Sessions.[29] He collaborated with Swedish singer Carola Häggkvist on her Christmas album Christmas in Bethlehem, singing "O Holy Night". Potts has appeared twice on the popular Korean Talent TV show Star King, first in 2008 and once again in 2010.

He participated in the soundtrack of the 2009 Korean historical drama Queen Seondeok, singing two major characters, Deokman and Yushin's love theme "Passo Dopo Passo" in Italian, meaning "Step by Step".

He also performed a duet with Hayley Westenra, Sei Con Me, featured in his 2009 album Passione.

Potts was in Toronto on 10 November 2010 performing a "flash opera" at the Union Subway Station to a moderately-sized crowd and finished to loud applause.[30]

In 2013 Potts appeared on the Korean television programme Qualifying Man.[31][32] Then on 9 August 2014 he appeared in Durban, South Africa alongside Got Talent winners 44-year-old James Bhemgee and 10-year-old soprano Amira Willighagen.[33]

In the summer of 2016 Potts took on two full length opera roles for the first time in his professional career. He played the role of Cavaradossi in Puccini's Tosca at Summer Sessions at Chiswick House on 15 and 16 June. Then in Hungary he played the role of Steuermann (Steersman) in Szeged Open Air Festivals' production of Wagner's Der Fliegende Holländer on 1 and 2 July.

In September 2017, Potts won the 320th episode of the South-Korean television music competition Immortal Songs: Singing the Legend, in a duet with Bae Da-hae [ko].

America's Got Talent: The Champions

In 2019, Potts competed in America's Got Talent: The Champions, reaching the final 12, but did not secure a place among the top 5 finalists.

Personal life

Potts met his wife Julie-Ann in an Internet chat room in 2001. Meeting face to face shortly afterwards, they married in May 2003.[34]


Studio albums

Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
One Chance
  • Released: 16 July 2007
  • Label: Syco, Columbia
  • Format: Digital download, CD
1 1 3 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 4 23
  • Released: 1 June 2009
  • Label: Syco, Columbia
  • Format: Digital download, CD
5 7 5 4 6 3 15 1 5 9 33
Cinema Paradiso
  • Released: 15 October 2010
  • Label: Sony Music Entertainment
  • Format: Digital download, CD
33 65 17 40 9 68
One Chance:
The Incredible True Story of Paul Potts

Motion Picture Soundtrack
  • Released: 21 October 2013
  • Label: Sony Music Entertainment
  • Format: Digital download, CD
33 40 2
  • Released: 12 October 2014
  • Label: Sony Music Entertainment
  • Format: Digital download, CD
36 36
On Stage[citation needed]
  • Released: 6 October 2017
  • Label: Right Track Distribution
  • Format: Digital download, CD
Winter Dreams[citation needed]
  • Released: 23 November 2018
  • Label: Paul Potts Recordings
  • Format: Digital download, CD
"—" denotes album that did not chart or was not released.


Year Title Peak chart positions Album
2007 "Nessun dorma"[a] 100 8 13 2 52 12 One Chance

Film adaptation

The Weinstein Company has adapted Potts's life in a film called One Chance, with James Corden starring as Potts. The script is by Justin Zackham and the film is directed by David Frankel, the director of The Devil Wears Prada.[55][56]

One Chance: A Memoir

In 2013, Potts' memoir, One Chance, was published by Weinstein Books, as a companion to the 2013 film of the same name. One Chance describes Potts’ difficult childhood, enduring passion for music, Britain's Got Talent win, and subsequent professional career. One Chance was featured as a top film tie-in of the year by Publishers Weekly, where it was described as a "fascinating tale...of the shy Welsh (he was from Bristol) store manager who seized his dreams and won worldwide audiences."[57]