Cheaters will do anything for dream

VOTING saboteurs have forced television bosses to close an online poll launched to find a choir to sing in the final of the Saturday primetime show Any Dream Will Do.

VOTING saboteurs have forced television bosses to close an online poll launched to find a choir to sing in the final of the Saturday primetime show Any Dream Will Do.

Six Suffolk schools are among hundreds caught up in the scam, after it emerged cheating parents and technical problems forced the broadcaster to scrap the poll and recruit a panel of experts to choose the winner instead.

Ipswich High School for Girls, Ipswich's St John's Primary and St Margaret's Primary, Stowmarket Middle, Brantham's Brooklands Primary and Grundisburgh Primary are among the 843 schools nationwide who entered the contest.

It is being run in parallel with the hit BBC1 show to find the new lead for the stage musical Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The winning choir will perform during the final show, masterminded by West End legend Andrew Lloyd Webber, on Saturday .

Schools entered by loading videos of their choir on to the website, which people could then view and vote for on a scale of one to five. But people were casting thousands of votes in favour of certain schools and marking down other leading contenders.

Julie Nightingale, a teacher at St Margaret's Primary School in Bolton Lane, Ipswich, said: “At the end of the day, we want the best choir to win in the best way. It's not fair for the children.

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“I actually think the fairest way to choose is the system they have ended up with. Leaving it to parents is a very subjective way of deciding.”

Danielle Freestone, a teacher at St John's Primary School in Victory Road, Ipswich, said pupils had been informed about the sabotage.

She said: “I feel sorry for the 17,000 children who kept seeing the goalposts being moved. Using the panel to judge is probably fairer but it's a bit of a waste of everybody's time.

“But we would like to thank everybody who voted for us. It's been good fun to enter the competition and it was a good learning experience.”

Richard Williams, who is in charge of the show's website, said people were giving top marks to one school and then giving as many schools as possible the lowest score without even watching their performance.

He said: “We were caught short and we're a bit embarrassed that we couldn't cope with the popularity of it.”

A statement on the show's internet site read: “We believe that the process has been compromised by technical difficulties and evidence of block voting, and trust in the integrity of the results may have been damaged.”

What do you think of parents rigging the vote? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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