Musical duo Max and Harvey Mills are an internet phenomenon, with more than eight million followers on social media, and because of their growing fame, they were invited to appear on Simon Cowell’s latest show, The X Factor: Celebrity on ITV.
The first episode, screened last Saturday, was filmed at Cowell’s Los Angeles mansion during the summer.
The boys are both 16 and have two younger siblings. As a result of those childcare duties, their parents, Sara and Paul Mills, were unable to take them across the Atlantic, so their grandmother, Sue Tickner, 64, of Walkerburn, was asked to accompany them.
It proved a real eye-opener for Sue, manager of the village’s Oyster Theatre company, as she mixed with celebrities and enjoyed the LA lifestyle.
Fans of Max and Harvey will have to wait until this Saturday’s X Factor episode to find out if they make it past the first audition, and Sue has been sworn to secrecy.
She is proud of her grandsons’ growing popularity and hopes other Borderers will be cheering them on too as the Berkshire boys have been regular visitors to the Borders over the years, in addition to having performed this side of the border.
Sue said: “They may be on X Factor now, but I like to think that Walkerburn had them first. They have been in the village and played with the local children and they have done a lot during their career in Scotland.
“They have done the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, they have toured with The Sound of Music, they have done gigs in Glasgow, all sorts.”
The boys also host a TV show called Max and Harvey: FOMO on CBBC.
Sue, also featured in Saturday’s opening show, said she and her young charges were treated like royalty in LA.
She added: “We filmed it in LA at the beginning of July, and we were all flown out there business class, and were looked after extremely well, staying at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel – you can’t get much better than that. They didn’t know quite what to do with me, so I was left with all the celebrities.
“I saw them putting together the whole of The X Factor, and I know what happens next Saturday but I can’t tell anyone.
“It’s really spectacular when you go out to Simon’s house. It was amazing, with a fabulous garden overlooking the sea. A whole area around his property is set up as a studio for actually recording these shows.
“All the contestants are sitting in a particular area, with big TV screens so they could see each other perform.”
Among the celebrities Sue rubbed shoulders with were broadcaster Martin Bashir, famous for his groundbreaking interviews with Diana, Princess of Wales, and Michael Jackson, and Jenny Ryan of the ITV quiz show The Chase.
Sue added: “Simon Cowell was amazed that Max and Harvey had eight million social media followers.
“They did two songs because the judge Nicole Scherzinger asked them to perform a second song, which was Sucker by the Jonas Brothers.
“That one really lifted everyone. Pete Waterman was there and he was practically dancing in his chair. He absolutely loved it.
“I’m very proud of them.”
How the boys do on The X Factor: Celebrity can be seen on ITV at 8.35pm on Saturday.
The other contestants taking part are The Only Way is Essex star Megan McKenna; Kevin McHale, alias Artie Abrams in Glee; US chatshow host Ricki Lake; ex-Coronation Street actor Victoria Ekanoye; Eastenders’ Jonny Labey; Olivia Olson, of Love Actually fame; Hayley Hasselhoff, daughter of Baywatch actor David Hasselhoff; and footballer-turned-actor Vinnie Jones.
In addition, sports stars Thom Evans, Ben Foden and Levi Davis have formed a three-piece band for the show, as have social media influencers Sofia, Alondra, Laura, Natalie and Wendii.
Love Island 2018 stars Wes Nelson, Samira Mighty, Eyal Booker and Zara McDermott have also joined forces, and they will appear on the show alongside Strictly Come Dancing’s Brendan Cole and Jeremy Edwards, an actor seen on Hollyoaks and Holby City.