There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes of Britain’s Got Talent that we never see, but one contestant had a seriously scary experience.
Singer Tom Ball placed third during Series 15 of BGT, aged 23 and working as a schoolteacher at the time.
He wowed both the judging panel and viewers at home with his powerful vocals – who could forget his audition with Writing’s On The Wall by Sam Smith from Spectre?
However, despite the glitz and glam of appearing on a reality show, Tom was taken to hospital just hours before the final – and he nearly died.
The musician from West Sussex almost missed out on the biggest performance of his life due to ketoacidosis, which is a complication of type 1 diabetes.
‘Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a serious problem that can happen in people with diabetes if their body starts to run out of insulin’, the NHS explains.
‘When this happens, harmful substances called ketones build up in the body, which can be life-threatening if it’s not found and treated quickly.’
Tom, now 24, was keeping a close eye on his diabetes throughout BGT, as he was aware it can affect his ability to sing if his blood sugar levels drop.
But, two days before the final, he felt extremely unwell.
At the time of his health scare, Tom was panicking, opening up to The Sun about the ordeal for the first time.
‘I just started feeling horrendous. I was feeling really sick and just completely drained,’ Tom, an ambassador for Diabetes UK, recalled.
He added: ‘I was sitting in bed after a day of trying to get my ketones under control, and my wife and I ended up ringing NHS 111, who told us to head to the hospital as things weren’t coming under control.
‘I’ve been hospitalised for diabetes maybe eight times in my life. For me to go, it had to be serious.’
Tom’s wife Hannah, 25, is a nurse, and she drove him to A&E, where he received treatment.
But, Tom was also counting down the hours to when he knew he needed to be on stage, singing for millions.
Explaining how serious the complication can become, Tom explained: ‘The build-up of toxins can attack your body and cause you to lose limbs. It typically affects your fingers and toes first.
‘It can also take your sight – like many conditions that come along with diabetes.
‘Knowing all this while trying to keep positive ahead of the BGT final was really hard.’
Fortunately, Tom made it back for rehearsals, but it was 4am when he arrived home and the clock was ticking until showtime.
But, he was determined to make it on stage, and didn’t even tell producers what had happened, worried they might make him pull out of the competition.
‘I really didn’t want any kind of excuses put out there if my performance was bad or didn’t go to plan,’ he admitted.
Tom said he wanted how well he ‘did or didn’t do’ to be down to him, not his diabetes.
‘I did tell my research in case something went really wrong, but I asked them not to tell anyone at all. I didn’t want it made into an issue. It was kept secret.’
Tom powered through and his stint on Simon Cowell’s talent show literally changed his life, and he says he’d ‘100 per cent’ do it again.
The singer will be back on screens in the New Year as part of America’s Got Talent’s All Stars edition.
He’ll compete alongside 2022 winner Axel Blake, runner-up Jamie Leahay, and poet Aneeshwar.
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