THE mother of singing star Hollie Steel has branded claims that children should not be allowed on Britain’s Got Talent as ‘rubbish’.

Ten-year-old Hollie, of Huncoat, broke down at the semi-final stage of the hit show in front of 15 million viewers on Friday.

But mum Nina said that her note-perfect rendition of Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again, from Phantom of the Opera, on Saturday’s final showed her strength of character.

She said: “If any child performer wants to make it then they have to get used to tough times as well as good times. There will always be auditions that don’t go well and disappointments but that doesn’t mean that children should not be allowed on the show.

“This has been a fantastic experience for her which she has really enjoyed.”

Critics, including ex-Big Brother psychologist Prof David Wilson, have condemned Britain’s Got Talent for ‘exploiting contestants’.

Prof Wilson compared the show to 18th century public executions.

He said: “Not too many of the contestants have the psychological equipment to cope with the sustained, harsh glare of the public spotlight.”

But Nina said those sentiments were “rubbish” and added: “Children tend to get nervous about these things. But it is ridiculous to suggest this should be the basis for removing all children from the show.”

Nina also spoke about supposed revelations about Hollie’s “secret” grandfather in a Sunday newspaper yesterday.

Nina’s real father, John Denvassey, 57, spoke to the News of the World about how he would like to make contact with the granddaughter he has never met.

But Nina, 37, said she has always known about Mr Denvassey and where he lives in Burnley, but has “never had any interest in meeting him”.

She said: “I know who my parents are and just because this man is my blood father does not necessarily mean anything.”

Nina said she was “overjoyed” at Hollie’s performance on the final, despite her not making the top three. She said: “She performed brilliantly and we are all so proud.”

Nina said that Hollie, a pupil at Oakhill College, Whalley, has now been assigned a manager through the show. Steven Howard, from TCB, which represents artists including Katherine Jenkins, will now be representing her.

Nina said Hollie wanted to make an album and work in theatre.

She said: “Anything that involves singing will be of interest but we will really have to wait and see. Hollie will be a part of the Britain’s Got Talent tour and that will keep her busy.”

Yesterday the family relaxed at their hotel with other contestants. Hollie played in the pool with 12-year-old Aiden Davis and Shaheen Jafar-gholi and children from the winning act Diversity.