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Let it Shine contestant AJ Bentley, from Hythe, wins approval from judge Gary Barlow

By Victoria Chessum

A Hythe man soared his way through to the second round of a talent show on Saturday in front of millions of viewers.

Aaron Bentley, 22, known on the show as AJ, won the hearts of the judges as they scored him 18 stars out of a possible 20.

Let it Shine on BBC1 is an eight week competition searching for five boys to form a band.

AJ Bentley sang Signed, Sealed, Delivered by Stevie Wonder on Saturday's Let it Shine. Picture: BBC

Take That lead singer Gary Barlow, Australian singer Dannii Minogue, Spandau Ballet’s bassist Martin Kemp and guest judge Amber Riley secretly rate the talent in front of them.

Then, the contestant waits on stage as a line of stars lights up in front of them.

A minimum of 15 is needed to get each individual through.

Gary Barlow said the claims were "utter rubbish".

The former Brockhill Park Performing Arts College pupil sung Stevie Wonder’s Signed, Sealed, Delivered hit from 1970 with confidence and an upbeat choreography.

His parents Steve and Mags Bentley sat and watched their son in the audience.

When Mr Barlow asked why he applied for the show, Mr Bentley replied: “I am a big Take That fan and I love performing so to be able to perform on a Take That stage would be incredible for me.”

AJ has been selected to go through to the second round of Let it Shine. Picture BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy

Gary Barlow gave him five stars out of five, which Mr Bentley said surpassed his expectations

He said: “After idolising Gary Barlow my entire life, I finally got the chance to perform in front of him which was a dream come true.

“I’ve been working hard on my vocals since my audition that was recorded in September, to prove to the judges and the public at home that I deserve to win the competition.

AJ's next performance will be televised next month. Picture: BBC

“At this time it may be a bold statement, but I’m always in it to win it.”
The next round will see Mr Bentley perform as part of a group of eight and alongside a UK artist.

It could be Beverly Knight, Olly Murs, Busted, the Kaiser Chiefs or Mel C from the Spice Girls.

All will be revealed on Saturday, February 4 at 7pm on BBC1.

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