LAST year, Steve Hewlett was propelled into the spotlight when he came fourth on ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent, winning over the judging panel and the public with his wit, comedy one-liners and quirky puppet characters.
Now, the father-of-one, who grew up in Basingstoke, is entertaining audiences up and down the country with his own show – Steve Hewlett and Friends: Thinking Inside the Box.
Last Saturday, he returned to his home town to perform a sell-out show at The Haymarket, with audience members including his proud parents, other family members and friends, as well as a few celebrity pals, such as former Dancing on Ice judge Craig Revel Horwood.
There was a sense of pride among those watching, as the show began with a film explaining how Steve had got to where he is now.
And there was a huge cheer from the supportive audience when Steve appeared on stage.
He had everyone laughing from the outset with his funny jokes, appreciated and enjoyed by both children and adults.
And there was much giggling from the children when he introduced the puppet he started out with – Handy – who was simply Steve’s hand!
Everyone was delighted when the popular Arthur Lager came on stage, particularly when he threw in a few cheeky jokes about Basingstoke.
Lucky audience member Pauline was serena-ded by Arthur, who sang a song to the tune of One Direction’s Little Things, changing the words to create a humorous version.
You could tell that Steve has been practising ventriloquism for a long time – the conversations and banter with his puppets was faultless, and after a while you almost forgot the entire show was being performed by just one man.
His funny one-liners were popular with the children, while there was some adult humour thrown in to keep everyone else entertained.
The Unspeakable Magician Richard Griffin performed for the second half of the first act, impressing the audience with objects floating in the air after appearing as if from nowhere, leaving those watching astounded.
There was some audience participation when nine-year-old James Parker, from Basingstoke, was invited on stage to help out with a card trick.
Some popular characters were welcomed on stage in the second act, including Simon Cowell, who accompanied Steve at the live finals of BGT, this time joined by baby Eric.
Steve thanked his family for their support, but his emotions got the better of him as he said goodbye.
Speaking after the show, Steve told The Gazette: “It was amazing to have all my loved ones there. My dad’s not well and said he wasn’t coming but I twisted his arm. I wanted his laugh on the DVD.”
The 39-year-old, who now lives in East-bourne with his wife and daughter, said of the tour: “It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever done.
“The support has been amazing.”
Steve now hopes that he will be able to secure another theatre tour next year, and perform at The Anvil.