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Exclusive: AJ Bentley, from Hythe, speaks of moment he won BBC's Let it Shine competition

By Victoria Chessum

A man who has wanted to perform since he was a toddler has spoken of the moment he won a talent show, watched by millions of people.

Aaron Bentley, 22, from Hythe, was a member of Five to Five, the winning boy band of BBC1’s Let it Shine which has been on television screens for eight weeks.

The show, headed by Take That singer Gary Barlow, saw Mr Bentley’s initial audition of Signed, Sealed, Delivered by Stevie Wonder get him into the final stages of the competition.

AJ performed Mmm Bop by Hanson with his band mates Five to Five to win a place in the semi final of Let it Shine. Picture: BBC

He got 18 stars out of a benchmark 15 which saw him selected to be in the Five to Five band and perform a range of songs in live shows every Saturday.

Last Saturday the live final saw Five to Five go head to head with rivals Nightfall and Drive - only to scoop the winning prize by the influx of public votes.

Mr Bentley, known on the show as AJ, was a former pupil at Brockhill Park in Saltwood.

He said the feeling is “surreal.”

AJ Bentley stands next to Gary Barlow as Five to Five were crowned winners of BBC1's Let it Shine on Saturday. Picture: BBC

“I’ve been dreaming about this for my whole life and finally it’s happened,” he said.

“On Sunday we spent the day with Take That and Robbie Williams filming and doing shoots.

“It felt incredible to be with them for the day, just relaxing, having fun and chatting to them. “They are so lovely and supportive and give us the best advice and mentoring for the future.”

AJ got to perform alongside Olly Murs during his eight weeks on the show. Picture: BBC

He said being in a group chat with Gary Barlow on What’s App, an instant chat messenger on smart phones, was something he never thought would happen.

The days after the big win have seen him appear on BBC Breakfast, Blue Peter, CBBC and newsround.

'We’re in a surreal bubble' - AJ Bentley

“We’re in a surreal bubble but now I’m coming back home for a week to spend some time with my family and friends before all the hard work starts,” he added.

“It’ll also allow some time to let everything sink in.”

Brockhill Park was among the band’s supporters, creating a video of the students cheering for their idols and a personal message from head teacher Sonette Schwartz.

Gary Barlow said the claims were "utter rubbish".

Mr Bentley’s family, including his parents Steve and Mags and sister Colette have also followed his progress closely.

Mr Bentley said: “The support from everyone in Hythe has been amazing, especially from Brockhill Park and Instep Dance Company.

'The support from everyone in Hythe has been amazing...' - AJ Bentley

“To have them behind me all the way means a lot.

“I just hope this proves to the children at Brockhill that anything is possible.

“It's about putting yourself out there, taking risks, working hard and being genuinely nice and polite to people, it goes a long way.”

Five to Five will tour the UK performing a series of musicals which will feature Take That songs at various dates spanning the next year and a half.

The Take That band members will be mentoring the lads along the way.

The musical, called The Band, will be performed at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury from February 20 to March 3, next year.

The boys have featured in a promotional advert alongside Gary Barlow and Robbie Williams in time for the ticket sales which will be released next month on Monday, April 3 at noon.

Mr Bentley’s progress can be followed on various social media channels via AJBentleyUK on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat.

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