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Page last updated at 14:10 GMT, Thursday, 26 November 2009
Joe McElderry's got the X Factor

Kristie Kinghorn
By Kristie Kinghorn
From South Shields

Joe McElderry
Joe was studying performing arts at Newcastle College

A few months ago, Joe McElderry from South Shields was just an average teenager studying at college.

Now, the 18-year-old is a top-four finalist in one of the nation's biggest and most loved talent shows, the X Factor.

I caught up with Joe's mam, Eileen Joyce, to see what she thinks of all the attention her son is getting.

She said she had always believed in him:

"I'm dead proud of him. He has never done a singing lesson and his voice is totally natural. I knew he could do it."

Impressing the judges

Eileen said Joe hadn't always been interested in singing, so it was only a few years ago they realised he had such a good voice, when he sang for them on the karaoke.

This year was his second time at auditioning and Eileen said it was all his own idea to enter.

Eileen, her sister and her nephew went down to the Manchester auditions with Joe to support him.

Fans have been giving good luck messages via Look North

"It was just good fun," Eileen said. "It was a nice day and we took sandwiches and he was so excited. It was just like a weekend away."

Joe's rendition of Dance With My Father by Luther Vandross impressed the judges and it was a proud moment for Eileen:

"He was really nervous. He doesn't realise how good he is and I don't think he realises what other people see when he sings.

"It was quite a big studio audience, around 2,000 people and they all stood up. I think he was blown away."

Cheryl Cole

From the audition it was smooth ride through to the final 12 and Joe's family threw a little party to celebrate.

Cheryl Cole
Fellow Geordie Cheryl Cole is Joe's mentor on X Factor

Then fellow Geordie Cheryl Cole became his mentor and there was another reason to cheer.

"Joe was ecstatic," Eileen said. "He wanted her because she's beautiful and she's from the North East - he was just so excited.

"She is young and pretty with it and she's pretty normal. They are two pretty grounded people and it's been a good help."

Joe's family have continued to support him at the live shows and Eileen says they love going to watch him sing - but she misses having her boy at home:

"I've missed him massively. He said if he had stayed for the night when he came to visit he would've struggled because there were a few people here.

"We usually have a big family do every Friday and everybody gets together and they were all here when he came back."

Signed photos

Eileen is head of the behaviour unit at Mortimer Community College in South Shields and said the kids love the fact they have the "X Factor mam" working at their school.

Judging by the amount of fan mail he's getting, it seems a lot of people are rooting for him:

"The support has been fantastic. I'm really proud people have got behind us," Eileen said.

Joe McElderry
Joe reached the boot camp round in 2007 but decided he was too young and left to get more experience
Danni Minogue fell in love with his dimples at the audition
Cheryl Cole said he had 'done our city proud'

"I keep taking Joe's fan mail down to him. I'm trying to reply to them all and I've been sending them signed photos. We've been getting whole class-fulls of fan mail!

"Asda have done a book every week and people who go into the shop are signing it and wishing him good luck.

"They've been extremely supportive," she added.

Whatever the final result, it's a good bet the local lad is destined for stardom - which his mam is more than happy about:

"He's exposed himself to the public domain and that's great because he's a performing arts student and that's probably the road he would've took.

"I want to say thanks to everyone who has supported us - the public, the corner shops that have posters in the windows and all the local businesses.

"Everyone has made an effort for him and it's great."


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