Resort rocks for big Switch-On

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BLACKPOOL rocked as thousands flocked to the resort to celebrate this year’s Illuminations Switch-On.

As well as the 15,000 crowd in the arena, an estimated 10,000 people were on the Promenade where the two-hour concert was being shown on a big screen near Central Pier.

Keith Lemon officially switches on the Illuminations

Keith Lemon officially switches on the Illuminations

The tramway and the Promenade had to be closed to traffic for safety reasons as the crowds spilled onto the road.

Switch-On star Keith Lemon was greeted with a huge roar of approval as he bounced on stage to flick the famous switch, joking “they wanted David Beckham!”

The funnyman broke into an impromptu rap to the delight of the audience before yelling “before I switch the Lights on, can I turn myself on?”

Telling fans “I borrowed this jacket from Jedward”, he provided a fashion first by lighting up its lapels.

Olly Murs flying the flag for Blackpool

Olly Murs flying the flag for Blackpool

The famous countdown to the Switch-On began, but Keith – the alter ego of comic Leigh Francis – suddenly halted it claiming he needed to answer a call from his mum, telling her “I’m busy turning on Blackpool Lights.”

As the Illuminations came on, the comic leapt off the stage to slap hands with fans at the front of the arena.

Meanwhile, the Prom burst into colour with the top of The Tower transformed into a swirling montage of light.

It was the culmination to a night which saw two hours of top quality music meaning the main switch-on show was twice as long as normal.

Pixie Lott

Pixie Lott

The set kicked off with chart-toppers Scouting For Girls who proclaimed “Blackpool is always the best seaside town to play.”

Pixie Lott got a tumultuous reception for her new single All About Tonight, while the line-up included X Factor’s Joe McElderry and Olly Murs.

And Olly demonstrated his delight at being back in the resort for the second year to perform at the Switch-On ceremony by pulling on an “I Love Blackpool” hoodie.

He said: “I came to Blackpool on my tour recently and it’s simply the best.

“I’m not just saying that, 110 per cent, it’s the best!”

Soul singer Beverley Knight was also delighted to be in the resort. She told the crowd: “It feels so great to be part of the big Switch-On.

“This has been a dream since I was a kid”

The Overtones, Paul Carrack, Darren Hayes and opera singer Wynne Evans – TV’s Go Compare man – also wowed the crowds before James Morrison closed the show with five of his hits including Wonderful World.

He said: “The crowd has been awesome. They are having a wonderful time.”

The show was broadcast live by Real Radio and Smooth Radio with DJ Mark Goodyear compering proceedings.

Afterwards the show got the thumbs up from fans.

Steve Rider, 25, from Marton, who was there with his wife and two children, said: “I loved the show. We come along every year to it and I think this has been the best one so far.

“There was something for all ages and Keith Lemon was great. He kept it clean so the kids could enjoy it too.”

Linda Chapman, 56, from Cleveleys, said: “We got here at 4pm and it was well worth the wait. I came to see Pixie Lott but they were all brilliant. Keith Lemon got the crowd going.”

Paula Brooker, 45, and Kim Kaye, 23, from Cheshire, said James Morrison and Joe McElderry were their favourites. Paula added: “We got here about 3pm and it was well worth it as it has been a really, really good show.”

Tania Mayhughes, 30, from The Wirral, said: “It was fabulous. We loved Olly and Joe.”