This year’s Britain’s Got Talent has been mercifully free of “surprisingly” good mawkish covers of 90’s pop songs delivered by unassuming members of the public, and pleasantly heavy on decent magical acts. Sadly, it’s now down to just one magical act, as bearded escapologist, Matt Johnson, was eliminated following a tense water torture escape that went slightly wrong, and Maddox Dixon’s illusionist act failed to impress the judges.
Johnson was doing well, but faltered at the last padlock after holding his breath for over two minutes. With paramedics ready to assist, he gestured for a pry bar and released himself from the box to cheers from the audience. Even if Johnson hadn’t slipped up during his performance, the judges were already torn on his occasionally disturbing brand of escapology.
Maddox Dixon secured himself a strong start in the competition with a well-received Rubik’s cube routine during the auditions, but a weak performance in the semi-finals and strong competition knocked him out of the running.
He started with some passable sleight-of-hand, moved on to an imaginary-card to box trick that failed to impress the judges, and ended with a levitation illusion that looked like the midpoint in a tutorial video. The whole routine was set to a Hans Zimmer track (please, leave Hans alone) and included a monologue so portentous I was convinced the act was self parody until the gimmicked Rubik’s cube came out. Even if Dixon had brought his A-game, he was unlikely to win against The D-Day Darlings, whose mix of military imagery and WW2-era nostalgia is catnip to BGT’s largely boomer audience.
Quick changers, Ellie and Jeki were also eliminated via a buzzer from Simon Cowell.
Matt Johnson made a name for himself on Penn & Teller Fool Us with his death-defying water-tank escape, and it’s one of the highlights of his act when he tours the world with his magic. Unfortunately, a theater in Surrey, British Columbia has put the kibosh on that part of his upcoming performance in the Canadian city.
In an interview with the Surrey Now-Leader, Johnson explained why Centre Stage Theatre forced him to remove it from his routine:
“I found out about this about five days ago. The (venue managers) in Surrey have made the call that they can’t have the tank in that theatre, because we’re told the stage is a hollow one, and they’re concerned about the weight of the tank and any water that could leak on the stage.”
Part of the reason for the caution might be due to an earlier performance this year on Britain’s Got Talent, where the tank exploded during his rehearsal, flooding the stage with 200 gallons of water.
Johnson still plans on performing for the full 90 minutes of the show, but how he’s going to stretch time out is up in the air, especially since a lot of his routine is scripted.
“I’m actually thinking of playing the Penn & Teller episode with my water escape during the intermission for anybody who wants to see it,” Johnson told the paper. “I haven’t confirmed that with the theatre yet.”