Armless pianist plays with toes to win "China's Got Talent"

BEIJING Tue Oct 12, 2010 12:14pm EDT

BEIJING (Reuters) - An armless pianist who plays with his toes has won the first series of China's version of the internationally popular television talent show, "China's Got Talent."

Liu Wei, 23, who lost both his arms aged 10 when he was electrocuted during a game of hide-and-seek, defeated 7-year-old standup comedian Zhang Fengxi at the final on Sunday at the Shanghai Stadium, the Shanghai Daily reported.

The pianist, from Beijing, who taught himself to play the piano at age 18, impressed the audience with his performance of "You're Beautiful," singing and using his feet to play the piano.

He also reported won over the judges by commenting: "At least I have a pair of perfect legs."

Cai Xiuqing, 23, a college student from Shantou in Guangdong province, won third place for singing "Boundless Oceans Vast Skies," a hit for Hong Kong rock back Beyond.

At the award ceremony, Liu was invited by Taiwan singer Jolin Tsai to be a guest performer on her world tour which gives him the chance to perform in Las Vegas for three months.

The award ceremony also featured winners and finalists from the popular "Got Talent" series in Britain and the United States including British singer Paul Potts and dance group Diversity.

British music mogul Simon Cowell, best known as the former acerbic judge on "American Idol," developed the TV format of "Got Talent" in Britain, the United States and Europe. He has become one of the most powerful entrepreneurs in reality TV.

The British version of the show catapulted the dowdy, Scottish singer Susan Boyle to international stardom last year.

The Chinese version of the TV talent show made its debut in May and has steadily risen in popularity, with the semifinal on Sept 26 ranking the top programme nationally by ratings.

The show's director Jin Lei told the newspaper that the success of the show ensured it would continue next year.

"China has so much untapped grassroots talent and we believe the show will maintain its nationwide vitality and popularity for three or five years," said Jin.

(Writing by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Ben Blanchard)

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