Britain’s Got Talent has come under fire from critics who have accused the show of featuring “tawdry” acts in a bid to boost ratings.

The Mirror reports that some of the auditions featured on Saturday’s show – which include a scantily-clad fire eater and a woman being spanked by a man reciting Shakespeare – have been singled out as being unsuitable for a family audience.

The latter act, called High Shakespeare, left the judges speechless – but others did not find it so funny.

“Children are vulnerable to modelling behaviour and seeing an act like this is essentially giving them permission to do it themselves,” psychology professor David Wilson told the paper.

“In no context is a man hitting a woman entertainment. It’s normalising the behaviour that men should be able to hit women.”

However a show insider disagreed, saying the act was “more panto than sexual”.

Other acts set to feature on Saturday’s show include Spellbound, an acrobatic troupe whose performance includes a human skipping rope.

“I have never seen anything like that in my life,” Simon told them, describing the act as “really smart”.

Other highlights include singing group The Arrangement, who perform classical versions of pop songs.