Gerry Cottle, owner of Wookey Hole Caves in Somerset and man behind the Turbo Jets, called for circuses to boycott the ITV show Britain's Got Talent in an open letter to The Stage.
Gerry Cottle wrote that the Turbo Jets were treated very poorly during their audition. The biggest complaint is that the music used for the routine was changed in post-production from a modern track by Sam and the Womp to the outdated and stereotypical ‘Entrance of the Gladiators’.
Gerry claims the researchers persuaded him to submit an act on the premise that they were looking for "young, bright, British performers representing real circus acts". 'Entrance of the Gladiators' hardly represents young, real circus these days. Despite being told the act would be treated "with respect" the change of music without any apparent notification to the performers does seem rather disrespectful.
The Turbo Jets' act involves seven performers mounting the same bicycle. The Turbo Jets' act had been reduced from seven minutes to just two at the request of BGT's research team after they "chased" Gerry Cottle to submit an act. By the time it was broadcast the act had been cut to 20 seconds.
Gerry conceeded that this sort of presentation is in the nature of TV shows but also remarked at the rudeness Simon Cowell showed by exclaiming that he doesn't like circus and doesn't like clowns, despite the act being totally free of the face-painted, large-trousered fear-mongers (in some people's eyes!)
The treatment the Turbo Jets received will not come as a surprise to many performers sceptical about Britain's Got Talent format. Cowell's remarks should have been expected as I'd guess the program's producers are always on the look out for fodder for Cowell's negativity, which seems to attract viewers.
While Britain's Got Talent can be a good platform for performers to gain exposure, the Turbo Jets' experience serves as a warning about the kind of treatment you can expect, particularly if you're from a circus background.