Simon Cowell might be a dad now but it’s doubtful he’s softened, so watch out for the scathing remarks when he joins David Walliams, Alesha Dixon and Amanda Holden on the judging panel as they scour the nation for new talent.
While they’ll continue to say yes to acts that impress, and buzz off those that fail to make the mark, this year they will also be able to use the new Golden Buzzer, giving acts an automatic place in the live semi-finals. So what else can viewers expect? The BGT team share some teasers...
ANT AND DEC
This time round, the Geordie presenters got to sit on the judging panel while Cowell took some time off. “Having sat in the chair, I can understand the pain the judges are in sometimes,” says Ant, who admits he ended up buzzing one comedian just because “he just rambled on”.
“It was really hard,” echoes Dec, “because we’d been talking to all the acts backstage, so to go and sit at the judges’ desk and hit the buzzer was tough. You end up immediately apologising to the act.”
The duo, both 38, say they’re always “chomping at the bit” to see what’s in store. “And this year Britain’s surprised us again,” says Ant, who’d love to see a magician or comedian win.
Some of the show’s funniest moments don’t happen on stage, but rather in Walliams’ attempts to embarrass Cowell. “I’m the thorn in his side, and I know the audience like to see him brought down a peg or two,” says the comedian, who admits the dynamic’s changed this year. “A wedge has come between us in the shape of a baby. I feel he should have impregnated me!” jokes the 42-year-old.
Walliams admits he prefers more eccentric acts. “I love the idea that you can come on this show and do anything, and for me, the weirder the better.” Talent and originality are crucial too, of course. “It’s vital to put an act together in a way we haven’t seen before. For example Attraction, Diversity – not only were they amazing dancers but they put it together in a way which was mind-blowing.”
The brains behind the show knows exactly why Britain’s Got Talent goes from strength to strength. “I think it’s loved because it’s old school, it’s unpredictable, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and you always get those magic moments where you just don’t expect,” says Cowell, 54.
One act really delighted the new dad. “We’ve found these incredible motorbike stunt riders, I’m amazed that half of them didn’t get killed.” The act he’s dreading winning however is a fashion designer who “in my opinion is the worst fashion designer of all time – somehow he’s made it through because David, Amanda and Alesha are on the judging panel”.
Holden, 43, is the only judge who’s been part of the show since it started in 2007. “When people say this is your eighth year I question it all the time, but then I remember absolutely the day that I got the job; I was stirring soup and Lexi [her daughter] had just turned one,” she recalls, adding she had no idea what it would turn into.
Now it’s the project people remember her for. “Obviously that’s great, I’m not knocking that but I think people sometimes forget I was an actress,” says Holden, who admits it helped change public opinion of her. “I think people always had me down as a ‘minxy’ husband stealer,” she confesses. “On Britain’s Got Talent, I was able to be vulnerable and I was a mummy and I was able to show people who I am now. Simon always says, ‘You have me to thank for people liking you’. He’s so modest!”
The singer, who joined the show in 2012, couldn’t be happier to be back. “It’s the biggest, craziest, boldest show on TV and it’s addictive,” says Dixon, 35, who like Cowell has become a parent since the last series. She’s resolved to be tougher this year. “There were some acts who I said yes to that when I saw them back on TV, I was like, ‘Why the hell did I do that?’”
Britain’s Got Talent, ITV1, Saturday 7.15pm