FEEL-GOOD STORY: James Corden and Alexandra Roach in a scene from the movie One Chance.
FEEL-GOOD STORY: James Corden and Alexandra Roach in a scene from the movie One Chance. Roadshow Films

Paul Potts' rag-to-riches tale gets the movie treatment

IT'S called the Susan Boyle moment.

That surprising nugget of TV brilliance where reality talent judges, audience members and viewers alike are in a collective state of awe when a contestant gives an unexpectedly brilliant performance.

But two years before anyone had heard of Susan Boyle, or her amazing voice, Paul Potts took a step into the unknown with his audition for the inaugural season of Britain's Got Talent.

The opera singer's new biopic, One Chance, tells the story of his working-class upbringing and the series of events, and misfortunes, that led to his BGT audition and eventual triumph as the show's first winner.

"It was an extraordinary moment," said actor Colm Meaney, who plays Potts's father Roland.

But Irish-born Meaney, best known for his roles in the Next Generation and Deep Space 9 series of Star Trek, and more recently as the baddie Doc on Hell on Wheels, had never heard of Paul Potts before reading the script.

"I live in LA and we split our time between here and Spain," Meaney said.

"I was not familiar at all with UK television, so it was all new to me. "I actually made that mistake when my agent called me saying 'I've got this script for you about Paul Potts', I said 'the Cambodian dictator?'"

The film traces Potts's regular run-ins with bullies, his lack of self confidence as an adult, his medical issues and what could have been a career-ending trip to Italy where Pavarotti told him he might never be an opera singer. "It's not a film about a guy who won a talent contest. Britain's Got Talent doesn't come into the movie until the last 10 minutes," Meaney said.

"The film is about this guy overcoming all these obstacles in his life."

Even Potts's own father was sceptical of his dreams.

"He's a working-class guy, working in a steel mill," Meaney said of his character Roland.

"Paul's a bit of an oddball. He's not one of the lads. What's going on with this kid?"

But Potts's father eventually comes around.

"To me it's an understandable reaction," Meaney said.

"Growing up in working-class Dublin I remember my dad saying 'You want to be an actor? What are you talking about?' "It's not from a negative place. It comes from concern and love really."

Since winning BGT, Potts has gone on to release three albums.

This is a feel-good film with a classic rags-to-riches story.

One Chance opens in cinemas on Thursday.

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