Britain’s Got Talent winner Jon Courtenay has opened up about his secret battle with skin cancer, sharing that he was diagnosed just weeks before the show’s live final.
Courtenay, who stormed to victory in the 2020 series, decided to keep the news to just himself, his wife Emma and his best friend because he didn’t want a “sob story” to affect the result of the show.
He has now made a good recovery.
Talking to This Morning about not having told Britain’s Got Talent producers what was happening, he said: “It’s almost a cliche now that people come on these shows with sob stories and I didn’t want it to be about that, I wanted it to be about I was having this break in my career after 30 years.
“It was really important, I didn’t want the press to be ‘BGT semi-finalist battling skin cancer’. It would have detracted from what I was trying to do.
“Also, I didn’t want to make it public to all my family and friends, it would have meant a lot of phone calls and I didn’t know how it was going to turn out.”
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Courtenay admitted he’d even considered not telling his wife as she had lost her father to skin cancer shortly before they met, but in the end realised he would need her support.
Talking about the stress of worrying whether the cancer might spread, he said: “It was keeping me awake for nights and nights with my brain going to some really dark places.”
Courtenay also said he’managed to keep his secret at the Britain’s Got Talent Christmas show where he turned up to filming with blue surgical sponge stapled to his head to keep an experimental skin graft in place.
— Jon Courtenay Official (@joncourtenay) January 31, 2021
He explained it away as a head injury and said the wardrobe department had made him a Santa hat to cover it up.
Courtenay said: “They made me a gorgeous Christmas hat with fur trim and bling... I don’t know what I would have worn if it hadn’t been Christmas.”
In his This Morning appearance, he said he had decided to speak out to encourage other people to seek help about skin changes, saying that appointments would still be prioritised even during the pandemic.
He said: “I had no excuse for delaying it, I made all the excuses – COVID came along, I was still working.
“I knew all the signs to look out for but it wasn’t until July I went to my GP and he said, yeah, that needs to go.
“I probably should have done it sooner. I was very lucky.”
Watch: Jon Courtenay on his Royal Variety Performance song