Britain's Got Talent is back and it couldn't have come at a better time. Amanda Holden reveals how it will lift everyone's spirits as the auditions begin…
With everyone across the UK doing their bit to control the Coronavirus pandemic, if there’s one show on TV that’s guaranteed to bring the nation together it’s Britain’s Got Talent.
As the show returns to ITV for its 14th series tonight, it’s bound to get people talking as all manner of weird, wonderful, delightful and daring acts take to the stage to prove they’re worthy of a slot at this year’s Royal Variety Performance and a £250,000 cash prize.
While the pre-recorded audition shows kick off this evening as planned, due to the Coronavirus crisis, ITV recently confirmed that the Britain’s Got Talent live semi-finals will now be shown at a later date.
“I think it’s for the best, I think our show would suffer quite badly from not having a proper audience,” says the show’s judge Amanda Holden, who returns to the panel alongside David Walliams, Alesha Dixon and, of course, Simon Cowell.
“But the audition shows are definitely coming and they are better than ever. So I hope everyone can cheer up by watching.”
Indeed, TV Times had a front row seat at The London Palladium to watch some of this year’s hopefuls in action.
And with a choir, a rocking pensioner and a singing dog (yes, really!) among them, we reckon this series will offer something for everyone!
Afterwards, we chatted to Amanda, 49, to find out if Britain’s STILL Got Talent…
What’s the standard of talent been like this year?
“It’s been really strong. Every year you expect it to get more and more ropey and it really hasn’t. There have been some bizarre acts, though. We’ve had people doing clay modelling, we’ve got a dinosaur playing a keyboard and a unicyclist, too. Alesha and I both feel this year’s show feels a lot more home grown – there are fewer professional acts in it and, more ‘bedroom rehearsers’. It felt very much like old-school BGT this year.”
What kind of acts are your favourite?
“For me, it’s always the acts you think are going to go one way but then they completely surprise you. We had one guy, a scientist, set fire to these ball things. As his act begun, I started yawning and flicking things like I would if I was in school – but then suddenly things got very interesting and his act was very dangerous!”
You were well and truly spooked by one act last series. Have there been any scary moments this time?
“No, luckily I was wearing my brown pants for the entire series and I wasn’t hauled on stage for anything scary. I was a magician’s assistant a lot and lots of my personal items were used but the fun was spread between all us judges a bit more this time. I haven’t done much screaming, so that’s good.”
Have any of the acts made you emotional?
“Yeah, loads of kids have made me cry and my Golden Buzzer act made me cry so, while the screaming has gone, the tears are back. I think it’s my age…”
What made you hit the Golden Buzzer, putting that particular act straight through to the live semi-finals?
“Well, apparently, all the way through their act, I kept looking at the Golden Buzzer, which I was completely unaware of. The producers were on standby, the golden tickertape button was ready, everyone was called to action thinking: ‘Yep, it’s gonna go’. I was feeling an emotional connection to the act but then their audition went wrong and we had to get them to do something again and it all seemed quite a disaster, is all I’ll say. But then, at the end, it was just wonderful. Their act is all encompassing, so it’s not just about what they do, it’s about everything that went wrong and the whole story behind them.”
What’s the dynamic been like between the judges this year?
“It’s always fantastic. We have such a laugh and it’s just a pleasure to be with those people. It feels embarrassingly easy and fabulous! Alesha and I often work together, David and I tend to agree on everything, and Simon and Alesha are quite similar; they’re sensible whereas David and I really aren’t!’
Have any of the acts really divided the panel?
“Yeah, the mad ones. Simon’s lost his mind! He liked quite a lot of what we’d call ‘eccentric physical British acts’. I would often look at him in disbelief because this show had a lot of credibility at one point. I found myself thinking: ‘What the hell!?’ a lot of the time.”
What sort of act would you like to see win BGT 2020?
“If I wanted anything to win this year it would be a choir. If a choir won, the impact on The Royal Variety Performance would be huge and, globally, they would represent BGT on a massive stage. Seeing all different sorts of people, all ethnicities and from all walks of life singing together would just be fantastic. A choir would be the best winner!”
Have your daughters Lexi, 14, and Hollie, eight, been along to the auditions?
“Yes, they’ve both been down and so have all their friends but, to be honest, their friends are more interested in David! Both Lexi and Hollie take the judging very seriously and Hollie remembers acts from when she was about four; she’s got a ridiculous memory. She honestly thinks she’s going to replace me on the panel when she grows up!”
People wonder if Simon will ever retire. Can you ever not see him as a judge on Britain’s Got Talent? And would you leave if he left?
“I can’t imagine that Simon will ever retire. He might go behind the scenes and start producing and directing maybe, although he does that anyway while he’s sat in the seat in front of the camera to be honest. He’s already left once and I didn’t leave then, so I’m clearly not that loyal!”
Britain’s Got Talent starts on Easter Saturday at 8pm on ITV.