LONDON (AFP) - Scottish singing sensation Susan Boyle was dealt an unexpected blow when she lost out to a group of young street dancers in the final of the British talent show that made her a global star.
Despite winning praise from the audience and the judges in her final performance on live television, the 48-year-old graciously accepted second place, saying the "best people won" and wishing the winners "all the best".
Boyle enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame over the past two months after video footage of her audition piece for the show, "I Dreamed A Dream" from the musical "Les Miserables", was posted on video-sharing website YouTube.
It has had about 100 million hits, brought her celebrity fans including actress Demi Moore and rock star Jon Bon Jovi
and seen her feted in the media from the United States to China, Japan and Australia.
Bookmakers made her the favourite to win, but after an unconvincing performance in the semi-final there were fears that the church volunteer, who lives alone with her cat outside Edinburgh, was suffering under the pressure.
However, in a live performance in the "Britain's Got Talent" final Saturday, Boyle proved the critics wrong and repeated her audition piece with gusto.
Judge Piers Morgan said it was the "greatest performance I've seen on the history of Britain's Got Talent -- you should win the competition, I loved it."
Boyle was up against nine other acts to win the show, which brings with it a cheque for 100,000 pounds (S$231,510) and the chance to perform for Queen Elizabeth II.
More than a million viewers cast their vote following the live performances, and in the end, Boyle lost out to a group of ten young dancers, named Diversity. Saxophonist Julian Smith came in third place.
After singing earlier in the evening, Boyle, wearing a grey-blue, long sequined dress, thanked all her fans.
"I want to thank people for all the support they've given me," she said.
Asked if it was worth all the media pressure, she replied emphatically: "Well worth it!... I really feel at home on stage, I'm among friends."
Boyle put in a shaky performance of "Memory" in the show's semi-finals last weekend, singing occasionally out of tune and out of time, and some fans on YouTube had questioned whether she could handle the weight of expectations.
The British media had also reported some erratic behaviour over the past week, including how she had lost her temper in the foyer of the London hotel where she was staying prompting police to intervene.
Morgan said that she even considered quitting, describing her in his blog as a "frightened rabbit in headlights".
But his fellow judge Amanda Holden said after Saturday's performance: "I have never heard such powerful confident vocals."
Reports on Sunday suggested Boyle could make millions of pounds in the next year if she capitalised on her global success, with the News of the World saying one of the show's judges, music promoter Simon Cowell, had big plans.
"It's the biggest phenomenon I've ever seen out of any of my shows," Cowell told the newspaper, which suggested an album, a film of her life and a memoir were in the pipeline.
Asked about her plans on television after the show, Boyle said: "I hope to get an album out -- I'll just play it by ear."
She added: "What a journey -- unbelievable, and very humbling. Thank you for everything."
Hoards of fans had gathered in her hometown of Blackburn near Edinburgh to watch the final and support Boyle, and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond also congratulated the singer, saying she could "hold her head up high".