A COMEDIAN from Burtonwood is only one step away from the live Britain’s Got Talent semi-finals after impressing the panel of celebrity judges.

Jason Mannion, who goes under the stage name of El Baldiniho, performed a routine of hilarious puns during the live stage audition which aired on ITV on Saturday evening.

He even drew a smile from the notoriously hard to please Simon Cowell as he secured four yes votes to book his place in the next round.

“Performing on Britain’s Got Talent is a pretty surreal experience, especially knowing I’m now through to the selection stage and only one step away from the live semi-finals,” said Jason.

“I was recovering from a bout of flu when I did the audition and you could tell I was suffering by the sound of my voice, so I was made up to get through.

“The next round will be held in two weeks' time and selected bits will be broadcast on the show, so hopefully they’ll show me again.

“I’m absolutely over the moon and just appearing on TV and getting through to the next round will boost my profile.”

A Burtonwood resident for more than 30 years, Jason now lives in Kent with his family and cherished the opportunity to take his act to such a big stage.

“To perform at the London Palladium in front of 2,200 people was just a great experience to be involved in,” he said.

“I’m fairly used to performing in front of large audiences as I was a finalist in the UK Pun Championships in Leicester last year in front of about 1,700 people.

Warrington Guardian:

The judges

READ > 15-year-old dies in loved ones' arms after battling rare condition

“I was hoping the auditions would take place at the Lowry theatre in Salford as I’m a proud northerner, but it was just as good to do it at the Palladium.”

One of the most daunting parts of the act would no doubt be performing in front of Simon Cowell and the rest of the celebrity judges, but Jason said they were all lovely during his time there.

“I had a chat with Ant and Dec before going on stage and they are really nice people,” Jason said.

“Amanda was probably the most supportive as she was asking me the questions on stage, but Simon said he loves a silly act and all the judges were really friendly.

“David is a comic as well, so it was a bit like two dogs sniffing at each other but they were all great.

“After I finished the TV interview with Stephen Mulhern, he said it was the funniest one he had done in 13 years, which was really nice of him to say.”

Jason is now a full-time comic, touring the country and bringing laughter to different audiences, but had a difficult baptism to the profession.

“I started performing comedy again when I turned 40 after a long break,” said the Burtonwood native.

“One of my first experiences of comedy was when I tried my hand at an open mic night in Manchester as a student in 1995.

“It went so badly that it took me 15 years to get over it before I started to perform again.

And when asked where the stage name of El Baldiniho came from, he said a trivial encounter with his son gave him the inspiration.

“I used to take my son to swimming lessons and afterwards we would watch the five-a-side football being played in the sports hall,” Jason said.

“One of the players was a bald bloke who was absolutely brilliant and used to score goal after goal from all over the court.

“We used to call him El Baldiniho and I thought that would be a great name for me to use on stage.

“Looking back though, I sometimes wish I had picked something simpler as people struggle to spell it and it even catches me out sometimes as well.”

With the selection phase of Britain’s Got Talent fast approaching, Jason says all he can do is give it his all and hope it will be enough.

“The real goal from the show is to raise my profile enough so I am invited to switch on the Burtonwood Christmas lights – that is the ultimate dream.”

If you have not seen Jason’s performance, the Britain’s Got More Talent episode is available to watch on the ITV Hub.