I have to confess that this year was the first that I have watched Britain's Got Talent. I watched the first episode and like so many others, I got sucked into the Susan Boyle story and continued watching.
Now I'm quite cynical and I understand how this sort of programme works. The emphasis on back stories to arouse sympathy, the judicious editing, the hyping up of the 'chosen ones' are integral to any Simon Cowell vehicle. And we, as the audience, like to turn things on their head with our vote.
Don't get me wrong, I'm really glad Diversity won. I didn't actually vote, but if I had it would have been for them. They were fantastic on the night and over the series came up with three polished, witty performances. What's more, they all seem like nice, educated lads who can overturn prejudices about street culture and I hope they have a great future ahead of them.
But I felt exceptionally uncomfortable about the semi-finals and final. I felt I was being manipulated. I didn't like seeing young children in distress on live TV. And I didn't like seeing what the media has done to Susan Boyle.
Whilst I realise that nobody could have predicted the YouTube, Facebook and Twitter phenomena, the production team must have known that she had learning difficulties. It is possible that her intellectual and emotional functioning level is not much higher than that of the distraught 10 and 11 year olds who left the stage in tears. Along with learning difficulties often come mental health issues such as anger, anxiety and depression, caused by trying to cope with a world which is incomprehensibly not black and white. Somebody should have understood this and put expert support in place.
Hopefully whilst in The Priory, Susan will be helped to come to terms with what has happened to her over the last couple of months. Then I hope she will be nurtured and allowed to develop without being made into a freak show. If nothing else she deserves that.