She’s only 11 years old. But next weekend, Arisxandra Libantino will sing on a talent show stage in front of millions – with £250,000 at stake.
Producers at Britain’s Got Talent have come under fire for allowing the little girl to go through to the show’s final, amid warnings she is too young to cope with the pressure. Arisxandra burst into tears of relief as she won a tense vote during Monday’s semi-final to go through to the last ten. But although she impressed the judges with her powerful singing voice, psychologists, campaigners and viewers all expressed concern that she wouldn’t be able to cope with the disappointment if she lost in the final.
It comes only a few weeks after Strictly Come Dancing host Sir Bruce Forsyth condemned talent shows for putting children through the ‘ordeal’ of competing.Britain’s Got Talent judge Simon Cowell responded to those remarks after Arisxandra’s performance on Monday, saying: ‘If you’ve got it, you’ve got it. Who cares how old you are. You’re 11 years old. You’re having a great time, right? ‘Because I’m having a great time as well. It was one of the best performances of the night and I’d like to dedicate this one to Brucie.’
It’s not the first time Arisxandra’s performances have caused controversy. Last month viewers condemned the show as ‘Britain’s Got Sleaze’ after she performed a song containing adult lyrics about a one-night stand in her audition.Arisxandra moved to Britain from the Philippines in 2004 with her parents Aristotle and Elma.They have previously spoken of their poverty, and admitted that if she won the £250,000 top prize they would use the money to pay off their debt.Her father, who works as a cleaner, said: ‘We had to borrow money from friends and now we have lots of debt. If she wins the show we’ll use the money to pay off the loans.’
After Monday’s programme, viewers again took to the internet, this time saying she should not have been allowed to go through to the final.One tweeted: ‘She’s amazing!! But I think she’s too young. #BGT.’ Another wrote: ‘I don’t think that little girl should have gotten through, too young to handle all that emotion, as amazing as she was.’Leading psychologist Aric Sigman said: ‘There is a very real problem with allowing children to take part in these shows.‘They are not well equipped to deal with this kind of adult pressure and being judged by outsiders, nor with the trappings of showbusiness which include the threat of instant failure and the promise of instant success.
‘Even if they receive nothing but acclaim, children can be harmed because their expectations can become distorted. Many people like watching children perform on TV, but it may not be in the child’s best interests.’Yesterday a spokesman for the programme said: ‘We have stringent procedures in place relating to children who appear on the show.‘Children are accompanied by a member of their family or a guardian at all times and a psychologist is on hand at all auditions.‘We also employ registered chaperones at our judges’ audition days and live shows to monitor the children’s welfare and ensure they have appropriate rest breaks.’ – DailyMail