Britain’s Got Talent made a triumphant return to our screens with a record 11.1 million viewers tuning in to the series opener.

And judge Alesha Dixon is delighted by the show’s popularity.

“It feels brilliant to be back on the panel for another year. It’s the biggest, craziest, boldest show on TV and it’s addictive,” Alesha told the Daily Express.

“From the first time I did the show, I just felt like I was part of something special.”

The four judges – Alesha, Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and David Walliams – share a genuine friendship on and off screen, says Alesha.

“Simon is actually a very funny man. You don’t often see that side of him on screen as he comes across all serious and important. But this year especially he’s been more mischievous and has been giving David a run for his money with the jokes,” she says. “David is a born entertainer. He’s brilliant on the panel and often keeps the crowd going and gets them involved. His teasing of Simon is hilarious, but Amanda is my best friend on the panel. She’s really witty and sharp and we get on so well together.

“I always love coming to work on the show because we just laugh all day long. It is genuinely fun to be with the other judges and I’m very lucky to have a job like this.”

But while the mix of judges on the panel have proved a hit, Alesha says it’s the amazing – and sometimes awful – acts that appear that really make the show a ratings winner.

“I think the show is a success when the right people walk through the doors,” she says. “It’s a people show. It needs eccentrics, it needs brilliantly bad acts and it needs funny people. The British public are the ones who make it a success; we have no show without them. In order for it to be better than last year, we just need to make sure we’ve got brilliant talent again.”

But that hasn’t stopped Alesha getting tough with contestants.

“When watching the show back last year I saw some acts I said yes to and wondered, ‘Why the hell did I do that?’,” she says.

“During the auditions you get caught up in the moment, whether it’s the audience getting behind an act or the other judges really rooting for someone, and that can sometimes sway you. Looking back there were some acts I probably shouldn’t have said yes to.

“This year I’ve made the decision to go with my gut and trust my instinct on whether I like an act and whether I think the country will like it, or whether it would be something the royal family would want to watch at the Royal Variety Performance.

“I’ve tried not to be swayed by the audience or the other judges this time, although David often sticks up for the underdogs and tries to get you to say yes.

“I have been tough this year.”

In October last year, Alesha and her partner Azuka Ononye had their first child, a daughter named Azura Sienna, who made her showbiz debut on the promotional trailers for Britain’s Got Talent.

Alesha is overjoyed at becoming a mother but admits that it can be tough juggling work and family life.

“I’m not going to lie, because it was difficult to leave my daughter for the first audition day as I hadn’t really spent any time apart from her then,” she says. “But once I came back, I was in a work frame of mind. Also, I’m really lucky as I have got a great support system so I know that she is in good hands.

“I do wish I could bring her down to watch some of the auditions, though, but she’s too small at the moment. Maybe when she’s older, and if I’m still lucky enough to be doing this, I will bring her to watch.”

Britain’s Got Talent, ITV