BRITAIN’S Got Talent finalist Steve Hewlett is staging a once in a lifetime performance with his American childhood hero.

The Eastbourne performer has been a comedy ventriloquist for 18 years and made it through to the grand final of the ITV reality show in 2013.

Since then he has kept busy on the national touring circuit – and has even met the Queen and Prince Philip at a reception in Buckingham Palace.

He has always wanted to appear on stage with the legendary Ronn Lucas, who was a huge hit in the UK back in the 1990s.

Now Steve has booked the Congress Theatre in his home town for Double Talk, a show starring them both, and he says he is thrilled at the news.

He said: "Ronn was a hero ventriloquist of mine and because music acts from the '80s and '90s are making a comeback I thought why not a successful ventriloquist?

"Ventriloquists are becoming millionaires here once again and it’s become cool to play with dolls."

Steve's passion for the art of ventriloquism started in 1987 and, soon after, Ronn Lucas crossed the pond to film the successful TV series The Ronn Lucas Show on Thames TV

Ronn then opened his live show in Las Vegas where he has held record-breaking seasons.

"I admired and met Ronn in the early '90s and we have stayed in touch," Steve said. "Recently I said to him about performing together in the UK and he said 'ok, let’s do it.' And so we are, it’s just amazing.

"Ronn inspired me in those early days, he was the first American ventriloquist I saw on TV. His characters are fantastic and Scorch the Dragon is the greatest puppet in the world.

"It’s a stunning character and even now Ronn to me Is 'the world's best' and I'm so proud to be touring with one of my heroes."

Among Steve’s current dummies are Simon Cowell, Sinitta, Keith Lemon and Louie Walsh, and he was a close friends of the late Keith Harris and recently donated Orville to The Grand Order of Water Rats charity museum.

He is also writing a book on ventriloquists over the past 100 years and this focuses on where the art is heading.

"Ventriloquism is on its way back big time, which is great for me, and great for the public who love to be entertained," Steve added.

Double Talk will be at the Congress Theatre on Wednesday, March 23 at 7.45pm. Call 01323 412000 for tickets.