Leiston: Teacher’s ‘Simon Cowell style’ criticism incenses talent show contenders

WHEN it comes to dishing out criticism on shows such as the X-Factor and Dancing on Ice, judges like Simon Cowell and Jason Gardiner are well known for not mincing their words.

Their outspoken views on contestants’ apparent lack of talent can often leave people lost for words.

And it appears as if Suffolk could now have it’s very own “Mr Nasty” in the shape of writer, broadcaster and teacher Simon Warr.

The EADT columnist was a judge at a recent Suffolk’s Got Talent event at Leiston Film Theatre.

However some of his comments have incensed constants and audience members alike, although Mr Warr claims he was asked to play the plain speaking, brutally honest Simon Cowell type role.

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Pat West, who lives in Leiston and was a member of the audience, said: “I think he was invited along to spice things up a bit but some of his comments were very rude and very personal.

“My friend and I found it offensive. It was just the way he put things. It was destructive rather than constructive criticism. People were getting a bit hurt by it.”

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John Baker, who lives in the Woodbridge area, said he and his wife had both been left concerned about Mr Warr’s comments.

“The other judges managed to give professional criticism of the acts without the need for churlish and belittling language that not only upset the acts but many, like my wife in the audience, who felt they were also being laughed at,” he said.

However he added that he had now received an apology from Mr Warr, who teaches at the Royal Hospital School in Holbrook, near Ipswich.

Last night he said: “I was asked by the organisers to play the plain speaking, Simon Cowell, type role.

“They wanted me to put forward a point of view that had no emotional attachment at all.

“Someone did ask me if I had to be so direct in my comments and my answer was that I was asked to be direct. If I had been asked to have been supportive and positive then I would have been. But I was asked to be brutally honest.

“I wasn’t intending to offend. That wasn’t my purpose. It was all very much tongue in cheek. I did compliment those who I thought deserved it.”

More than 60 hopefuls auditioned for the talent show and from those a final 13 were selected to take to the stage and impress the judges - which also included Nick Pandolfi, Graham Colthorpe and Kate McCabe.

The contestants, from across the county, were aged from 13 to 75 and included, musicians, singers, a choir and a impressionist.

Classical singer Hannah Curtis, 17, from Sibton, between Saxmundham and Halesworth, was crowned the winner for her performance of Time To Say Goodbye.

Wayne Burns, manager of the Leiston Film Theatre, said: “We have been inundated with compliments for the usual high standard of our talent show productions and have, on this occasion, received a few complaints concerning Mr Warr’s conduct.

“Simon was invited to join our judging panel, as he has a vast knowledge of the performing arts and experience of TV and radio.

“The audience was warned of his outspoken persona during his introduction and quite obviously, took offence at the manner in which he delivered his verdict on the various performances.”

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