As the stage is set for the live final of Britain’s Got Talent, hosts Ant and Dec reflect on their highlights of the series…
Britain’s Got Talent never fails to entertain and this, the 13th series, has been no exception, giving us singers, dancers, laughs and stunts galore.
This series has also seen hosts Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly back where they belong, side-by-side on stage, after Ant took a year out from presenting duties for personal reasons.
Following a week of nail-biting semi-finals, on Sunday night, the top 10 acts will battle it out in the grand final, live from London’s Hammersmith Apollo.
They’ll all be hoping to follow in the footsteps of last year’s winner Lee Ridley – aka Lost Voice Guy – and win a coveted slot at the Royal Variety Performance and a £250,000 cash prize.
Before that, Ant and Dec, both 43, take a look back at what’s been another great series of Britain’s Got Talent…
What’s the talent been like for you this year? And, after 13 series as hosts, do you ever think you’ve seen everything?
Dec: “We’re always shocked by what we see and on series 13 that’s no mean feat because you do go: ‘Well, we’ve kind of seen it all’. But on more than one occasion this year we’ve both looked at each other and been like: ‘Even after 13 series we’ve never seen that before’.”
You were given a lovely surprise at the start of the auditions…
Ant: “Yes, we’re now Guinness World Record holders! We didn’t know that was going to happen, it was a genuine surprise. We’re going to be in the book, how brilliant is that?! I used to get that book as a kid so hopefully they’ll send us a copy! It was just a great surprise.”
Dec: “It was just a crazy week. We were back together, we got that hugely emotional welcome back from the audience, we won an NTA and then we got this. It was like having a birthday and Christmas all in one. It was just a lovely week where people were just being really nice to us all the time.”
One of our favourite acts this year was ‘Magician X’ (pictured above), an illusionist who tested your bond as friends. What was it like being part of the act?
Dec: “We didn’t know we were going to be part of it. He started talking about how this act can only be done with two people who have a real bond and so, because we’ve been working together nearly 30 years, he got us on stage. We had to sit on separate chairs with our eyes closed so we don’t know what happened. All I know is that I got prodded and everyone was telling us afterwards that he never touched me, he always touched Ant. But I could feel it!”
Ant: “Then we had to both draw something with our eyes closed and we drew the same thing, that was mad. We are quite in tune with each other but this guy took it to another level.”
As this is series 13 – unlucky for some – can you recall anything that’s gone wrong backstage?
Ant: “The thing is, for us in the wings things always happen, there’s always mishaps backstage because it’s real people doing real auditions. So people forget their words, they drop stuff, they make mistakes.”
Dec: “We’ve even had people bottle out before they get to the stage. They’ve nearly got to their turn and they’re like: ‘I can’t do this!’ and they turn around and leave. We’ve had a bit of that. So for us we see the warts and all, which the audience in the auditorium don’t get to see. That’s why we love it!”
And can you reveal any backstage secrets about the judges?
Dec: “They all get on like a dysfunctional family!”
Ant: “We are constantly having to wrangle them. We’ve got to get them all on stage on time, which never happens!”
Dec: “It’s like herding cats! We’re like, ‘Come on everybody, the audience is in, the acts are backstage ready to go’. But then Simon’s munching on his carrots and playing with his hairdryer.”
Ant: “Or we turn round and one of the girls is back in her robe again. She’s taken her clothes off so as not to crease them.”
Why do you think Britain’s Got Talent is so essentially British?
Ant: “This format has gone around the world – we’ve seen some of the acts on the other shows but I just don’t think they are as eccentric as we are. We’re a mad little island, aren’t we?!”
Britain’s Got Talent won the award for Best Entertainment Programme at this year’s BAFTAs [BGT previously won in 2018 and 2010]. You must be thrilled?
Dec: “Yes, we did it again! The biggest thank you goes to all of the people who come along and audition, without them there really is no show. They’re even more important than the judges – and on a par in importance with the hosts! So it’s a real thanks to all of them.”
It’s clear there’s always been lots of public support for the two of you in particular, especially while Ant took time away last year…
Dec: “It’s been amazing. Ant was away for a lot of the time last year, so I saw the groundswell of goodwill and best wishes for him. I made sure that I passed them on and that he realised just how many people were stopping me in the street asking about him and passing on love and goodwill, so it’s been really, really heart-warming.
Ant: Yeah. It means the world. It’s been hard work but with the support of a true friend like Dec, and the public, I got there. It’s nice to be back.”
The Britain’s Got Talent live final can be seen on Sunday June 2 at 7.30pm on ITV.