WORCESTER X Factor hopeful Gathan Cheema was celebrating today after getting through to the next stage of the competition.

The 22-year-old, of Toll-adine Road, impressed the judges on the ITV show with his rendition of Pop by American boy-band N Sync.

His audition and dance routine at Cardiff’s Mot-orpoint Arena earned him a resounding ‘yes’ from the four judges Nicole Scherzinger, Louis Walsh, Tulisa and Gary Barlow, who said he could be the “dark horse” of the competition.

Tearful friends cheered him on as they waited to hear the judges’ verdict backstage.

As a Michael Jackson tribute singer, Gathan has already had a taste of the limelight, regularly performing in Worcester and further afield as well as having parts in Snowman at the Pavilion Theatre in London’s West End, and Dick Whitting-ton. “I wasn’t nervous,” he said. “It still hasn’t hit me that I’ve got through. I feel elation more than anything. I’m very excited about boot camp. I love the fact it’s so intense.

“You can’t even step off your game.”

Getting through to the next stage of the competition has been a dream come true for the singer, who moved to Worcester from Birmingham in 2008 then went on to win Text Factor at Sin the following year.

“I became a Michael Jackson singer off the back of it,” he said. “I ended joining the competition and mentoring Cher Lloyd for 10 weeks before she went on to the X Factor.

“I’ve always wanted to be famous. I’ve been singing since I was two. I’ve done lots of shows since I was a kid. I’ve nev-er been formally trained in singing but I thought it was the way to go.”

Gathan, who is now through to boot camp and down to the last 23 boys, was recently paid a visit by pop star Olly Murs, who came to Worcester to interview him for the ITV2 spin-off show the Xtra Factor.

The Dance With Me Tonight singer dropped into Harper’s Gym in Sansome Walk with a film crew.