PERFORMING live in front of thousands at the O2 would be enough of an adrenaline rush for most.
Samantha Hallam’s time in the X-Factor spotlight was made even more special when partner Paul Ricketts unexpectedly joined her on stage following the audition, broadcast last Saturday evening.
Samantha, 37, of Park Crescent, was taken by surprise as Paul, 42, got down on one knee and proposed, making X-Factor history.
She said: “I was completely taken by surprise, I was over the moon. We have been together three years, and I was hoping that he would ask me at some stage.”
Paul, a manager at the Hawkhurst-based Wealden Advertiser, had earlier taken production staff aside to arrange his on-stage appearance.
To keep Samantha in the dark he had told her that he was trying to organise a private hello with Gary Barlow, as she is a huge fan of the singer.
Samantha was cheered through the audition, where she sang Kings of Leon’s Sex on Fire, by a big group of friends and family, including her six-year-old son Lewis.
“Paul just put the icing on the cake,” she said. “It was a great day.”
To top it off, the judges Louis Walsh, Gary Barlow, Tulisa Contostavlos and Kelly Rowland then voted her through to Bootcamp.
Samantha, a freelance graphic designer, had only previously sung in clubs and pubs.
She said: “I never had the courage to do it before, but Paul said ‘You really should do it, you are good enough’, and I thought you know what, I had nothing to lose.”
“It was a great experience, but it has been a real rollercoaster. Paul has just been an absolute rock throughout.”
Samantha and Paul, who has two sons from a previous marriage, are hoping to take their children and tie the knot in Las Vegas next year.