Britain’s Got Talent scored its highest rating launch episode ever with 11.1 million viewers, ITV said.

The talent show boasted a 47 per cent share on Saturday night as series eight got under way with laughs, tears and an owl act.

Andrew Charlton, 53, from Lincolnshire and his owl Rocky had hoped to repeat the success of 2012 winners Ashleigh and Pudsey, but left the judges less than impressed with their agility act with Amanda Holden telling him: “You’re like a very old, unmagical Harry Potter.”

More impressive were five-piece boyband Collabro whose version of Stars from Les Miserables won them a standing ovation, with Amanda describing them as “bloody brilliant”.

Judges also took to 79-year-old grandmother Paddy Jones, who danced her way into the live shows with her salsa partner Nico Espinosa, 40.

The six acts going through to the next round are: country dancers Countryvive, boy band Collabro, computer-enhanced dance group Light Balance, opera singer Lucy Kay and 12-year-old street dancers Terrell and Lauren from Essex, plus Amanda Holden’s Golden Buzzer act Paddy and Nico, who go straight through to the live semi-finals.

Click here for more on the best and worst of the first show.

– Press Association