A TV talent show aimed at finding a support act to tour with chart-toppers Little Mix reaches the semi-final stage this Friday with an East Lancashire representative hoping to go all the way.

Patrick Ralphson has been playing guitar since learning as a child, honing his skills in his dad’s covers band.

Now, alongside newly-assembled band Since September, he has been storming his way through the BBC’s Little Mix The Search series and hopes to seal the deal over the weekend.

Reflecting on his experience and on working with Little Mix, the 19-year-old said: “It’s definitely an experience that’ll live with me forever. The girls are amazing, just really normal people who made me feel so comfortable straight away.”

For Patrick’s family, of Trawden, the experience has been every bit as surreal.

Proud mum Molly said: “He’s absolutely delighted to have got this far.

“It’s been a fantastic experience; he’s learned so much and this really is his dream coming true.”

Patrick, who studies German and politics at the University of Manchester, has been performing in a variety of bands over the years and says that he much prefers the group dynamic over playing solo.

As such, being brought together with band mates Harry, Matthew and Jacob over the course of the series, who he has now been living with while filming in London, has been ideal.

The band cites 5 SOS, McFly, Jonas Brothers, Kings Of Leon and The Killers among their influences.

Molly said: “They’ve become so close, living together in such a close situation, they’ve been having the time of their lives!”

The competition has been hit by the coronavirus situation, with delays stretching the process over the course of this year, the exact same time the winners should have been touring with Little Mix.

Molly said: “Patrick’s good at picking himself up from disappointments and they’ve all been so good with the Covid regulations, making sure that everybody is safe.”

Friday’s semi-final will see Patrick’s band Since September go up against fellow contestants New Priority, Jasper Blue, Nostalgia, Melladaze and Ychange.

The semi-final of Little Mix The Search will be airing at 7pm on Friday November 6 on BBC1 with the grand final following the next day at 6.05pm.