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Cyril bids for X Factor glory

PUBLISHED: 15:00 25 September 2008 | UPDATED: 14:44 07 July 2010

Robyn Greenacre

Mick Jagger has the pouting lips and skin tight jeans, Freddie Mercury had the twirling moustache and outrageous costumes.

But now an 80-year-old Norfolk man has the chance to join the ranks of such famed music stars thanks to a remarkable X Factor journey.

Mick Jagger has the pouting lips and skin tight jeans, Freddie Mercury had the twirling moustache and outrageous costumes.

But now an 80-year-old Norfolk man has the chance to join the ranks of such famed music stars thanks to a remarkable X Factor journey.

Cyril Grant from Swaffham is wowing audiences and the jury on the ITV talent show to such an extent that usual acid-tongued judge Simon Cowell has paid for the pensioner to have new hearing aids.

He has already made it past the three preliminary auditions and impressed the celebrity panel by singing 'Hey Good Looking.'

And this weekend could see Cyril's fame and fortune rocket even further as we will see the gruelling bootcamp auditions.

So keen was Mr Cowell to ensure Cyril was on top form he paid for new hearing aids from London's prestigious Harley Street.

Initially 175,000 wannabes applied for X Factor but only 150 people made it through to the bootcamp stage, and over the course of two shows on Saturday and Sunday night the acts will once again perform, with only 24 making it though to the penultimate stage of the competition.

Should he make it through he will be put under the charge of mentors Louis Walsh, Simon Cowell, Dannii Minogue or Cheryl Cole, who will take their protégées to their homes and pick their final 12 ready for the series of live television programmes.

The bootcamp stage was held at the beginning of August at London's O2 Concert Arena, but Mr Grant is keeping his lips firmly sealed about whether he got through urging everyone to watch it instead.

For his devoted fans who regularly post messages of support and clips of him performing on the Internet, it will be a travesty if the former carpenter who first arrived from his native Guyana in 1954, does not carry on his X Factor journey.

Bebo, Facebook and Youtube are littered with comments such as 'Absolutely love him! Cyril to win!,' 'He has massive charisma, and he is right to feel younger than he is because he looks younger than he is. Soon as I saw him I said “80!? He's never 80!” The slight deafness is a weak spot for him but he more than makes up for it with his showmanship and personality. Hope you go far Cyril. Gives the seniors hope!”

Yet Mr Grant remains decidedly unfazed by the hundreds of websites set up in his honour, and hoards of fans recognising him wherever he goes in the country.

“The attention is absolutely great. Everybody in the shop, the post office, the supermarket and butchers all say hello to me and wish me luck.

“When I walk down the street people either shout support at me or I catch them looking at me. It's absolutely beautiful.

“When I went down to London for the bootcamp I stepped off the tube and as soon as I got up to the top of the escalator someone said 'I've seen you on television.'

“I think it's my white hair. Everyone recognises it immediately.

“I don't know anything about computers. It has never bothered me looking or playing at a computer.

“Even the radios with a little wind up handle on? I don't touch them. It doesn't matter to me all I want to do is play my music all day long.”

*X Factor is on ITV1 at 7.45pm Saturday and 7pm on Sunday.

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