Two years after shy mobile phone salesman Paul Potts became the surprise hit ofBritain's Got Talent
, the show has unearthed another unlikely star.
An unmarried, unemployed middle-aged Scottish woman is now being tipped as the potential winner of the competition after blowing away the judges and audience with a heartfelt rendition of I Dreamed A Dream from the musical Les Miserables.
After telling hosts Ant and Dec she lives alone in West Lothian with her cat Pebbles, and that she'd "never been kissed", church volunteer Susan Boyle emerged onto the stage.
The 47-year-old drew laughter from the crowd after wiggling her hips and had Simon Cowell and the rest of the judges looking doubtful when she said she wanted to be as successful as Elaine Page. But when she began to sing, the mood in the studio changed completely.
In scenes reminiscent of Paul Potts' audition, the audience began to cheer and the judges mouths fell open with amazement. Amanda Holden's eyes filled up with tears before Susan's performance - which was watched by a record 11.8 million viewers - ended with a standing ovation.
"Without doubt that was the biggest surprise I've had in three years of this show," said Piers Morgan. "When you stood there with that cheeky grin everyone was laughing at you. No one is laughing now. That was stunning. I'm reeling from shock."
Simon dubbed her performance "extraordinary" while Amanda said she was "thrilled". She explained: "I think we were all being very cynical, and it was the biggest wake-up call ever".
Later Susan revealed there had been a poignant element to getting up on stage, as it was the first time she'd sung in public since her mother Bridget passed away two years ago aged 91.