Trending: Are the tears of a nine-year-old what we want?


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The Independent Culture

Another week, another scandal in Simon Cowell's empire. Whenever you think it might be losing its lustre, up comes something that catapaults it back into the national conversation.

This week's headline-grabber was the story of Malakai Paul, a nine-year-old contestant on Britain's Got Talent. While performing a song by Beyoncé, the child was consumed by stage-fright and burst into tears.

Although he was allowed to perform again, the scenes reignited the debate over whether children should be put in the sort of high-pressured environment that has broken many strong-willed adults. The incident, not the first of its kind, also raises questions about the trend for ever-younger pop stars.

It even raised the heckles of government, with Sarah Teather, the Lib Dem Minister for Children and Families, criticising the show. But for now, it gets all the free publicity that comes with such a story, extremely useful as it attempts to regain top spot in the ratings from the BBC's The Voice.