Britain's Got Talent series 12 is underway with some of its barmiest, most jaw-dropping and emotional acts yet.
The kings and queens of entertainment Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams returned once again to their rightful thrones on the judging panel in the search for the most exciting talent around.
Ant and Dec are back on the auditions, while Dec will fly solo when we reach the live shows on Monday, May 28th. Stephen Mulhern returns for his 12th series on ITV2 with spinoff Britain's Got More Talent.
Over the past few months the dream team have travelled the length and breadth of the country looking for that winning act who can not only capture the heart and imagination of the Great British public but who is also fit to perform for a Royal. After an incredible series in 2017, this year’s viewers will be surprised, charmed and moved to tears as a host of variety acts take to the stage.
Episode 7 - the final auditions - starts on Saturday, May 26th at 8pm on ITV.
Episode seven preview:
Dudley the Dancing dog
Meet Dudley, a cheeky Irish dancing dog who will merrily jig (and urinate) all over the BGT stage. What will the Judges make of such a unique act?
DJ Murray Mint gets the party started
He doesn't blame it on the sunshine. He doesn't blame it on the moonlight. He certainly doesn't blame it on the good times. But does Simon Cowell blame it on the boogie? Find out as DJ Murray Mint takes to the stage with his infectious energy and classic disco tunes.
St. Lawrence's choir take us to a world of pure imagination
St. Lawrence's Primary School choir have come all the way from Northern Ireland to share their beautiful singing voices with us. Take a listen as they make a classic Willy Wonka song their own.
Who are the judges on Britain's Got Talent 2017?
The awesome foursome are back! Simon Cowell, Alesha Dixon, Amanda Holden and David Walliams are returning for a fifth consecutive series, having first appeared together in 2012.
The big boss of BGT is back again and the talent show guru will be hoping for some more successful animal acts and popstars to morph into money-making machines. The X Factor may be slowly fading in the ratings, but BGT remains a ratings juggernaut for Cowell.
When you’re heading into a new series of Britain’s Got Talent what are you hoping for?
I’m hoping for good people, you want to be surprised and you don’t want a bad version of what you’ve seen before. That, for me,
is the most important thing. You always want to be surprised on this show. The surprise aspect, going back to Paul Potts and Susan
Boyle, I just didn’t expect them to be that good and they were amazing. That’s what this show is about.
The comedian famously beat Cowell to the Best Judge title at the NTAs (twice!) and he's never let his old pal forget about it. Expect more outrageous behaviour, participation with the acts and some eccentric selections from the Little Britain star.
What have the auditions been like to film this year?
It’s been fun, it’s been harmonious and there’s been lots of brilliant talent, which is important. There have been lots of eccentric
people, lots of proper variety, brilliant magicians and comedians.
I’m pleased because there are lots of other singing shows and we do have brilliant singers on this show but I’m just pleased to see all the variety. It’s tough actually, because one year we might have just one or two great magicians but it feels like we’ve got about ten this year and the same with comics. So, it’s going to be interesting.
Can you predict the winner?
I don’t think anyone can call it. No one really knows who might win. Sometimes there’s someone who might be the favourite all along
and you think it’s a done deal and they’ll definitely win, but it doesn’t feel like that this year.
The only judge to have appeared on every series, Amanda is known for turning on the water works and turning to goo when the child acts come on. However, nobody works for over a decade with Cowell, Piers Morgan and Walliams without being able to hold their own.
How does it feel to be the only judge to have done every series of Britain’s Got Talent?
I’m always pleased to be back and extremely grateful. When you get a phone call to tie you into a show like this you think five years
is good, so to be here with my zimmer frame 12 years later is an amazing feeling for me.
The Strictly winner and former popstar remains one of the most popular entertainers in Britain and her infectious cackle will be back again for another year.
Welcome back to Britain’s Got Talent, what were you hoping to see this time around?
Every year I look forward to seeing a new crop of talent, who’s decided to enter the show, what they are going to bring, I look
forward to seeing something I’ve never seen before, which I know is a huge challenge. But it is possible and we always get new,
surprising acts or new magical ways or fresh comedians. Whatever it might be, every year I am always pleasantly surprised that we never run out of talent.
Have you had fun with the BGT gang this year?
It’s always fun being back with the gang; it’s like coming back to a new school term. We don’t see each other that much outside of
filming but when we get back together we just pick up where we left off. The show goes on and it’s quite seamless. The more we
work together the more we’ve formed this lovely camaraderie. It just works; we’re not quite bored of each other just yet, which is great news.
Ant and Dec - Magician Marc Spelmann
The show got off to a flying start this year as Ant and Dec found their Golden Buzzer act in the very first episode.
Magician Marc Spelmann had a huge effect on the whole audience but especially on the lads, leaving Ant in tears at one point.
He explained how his act had been inspired by his wife and daughter, as his wife was diagnosed with cancer and underwent chemotherapy while pregnant. Their daughter survived the treatment and is now two years old.
Simon Cowell - Tim and Jack Goodacre
People say that Simon Cowell has changed since becoming a dad to son Eric, and we can certainly remember a time when he would have rolled his eyes at the very idea of his Golden Buzzer act.
Father and son duo Tim and Jack Goodacre gave a heartfelt performance of their self-penned song The Lucky Ones, accompanying themselves on guitar.
Simon explained: “People have asked me if I have changed since I have had Eric and of course you do, you can’t help it.
“But there was this kid and I was thinking, ‘God, that literally could be Eric’. It wouldn’t be me as the dad, but it could be Eric. There was something about this boy, he sang with his dad and I thought the song they wrote was really cool.
“I caught a glimpse of Ant and Dec ready to run down and push the golden buzzer, and I thought, ‘No way! This one is mine!’."
You may recognise 12-year-old Jack, as he auditioned for The Voice Kids last year and has also starred in the West End stage show School of Rock. This time though, he just wants to sing with his dad.
Simon added that he thought David Walliams was terrible at picking Golden Buzzer acts.
He said: “He’s got an abysmal track record. Literally, abysmal. I don’t even know why we give him a golden buzzer. Maybe I should take it off him and give him a bronze one.
“You do get caught up in the moment, I’m not going to lie. You can get emotional or excited and press your buzzer. There have been times when you look back, not so much me, but the others and must have gone, ‘What was I thinking?’.”
David Walliams - Donchez Dacres
In the past, David Walliams might have gone for entertainment value over talent for his Golden Buzzer choice, but this year he could be on to a winner.
The comedian picked 60-year-old singer Donchez Dacres, whose hugely catchy song Wiggle Wine was a big hit with the audience and the judges.
In fact, Donchez's dance routine was so irresistible that three of the four judges (you can guess which one stayed in his seat) as well as Ant and Dec stormed the stage to join in.
David's seal of approval obviously meant the world to Danchez, who fell to the floor with shock when he realised he had been awarded the Golden Buzzer.
"I love my golden buzzer this year," said Walliams. "He’s this brilliant singer, he’s got the most incredible, catchy song. I beat Simon to the golden buzzer, he really wanted him so he was really angry and super competitive, but I got there first. He was a real highlight for me."
Alesha Dixon - Lifford Shillingford
Back for another year on the judging panel is Alesha Dixon, who’s excited for viewers to see the act that she has tipped for the top.
Lifford Shillingford, 42, is a former member of Artful Dodger who had a hit in 2000 with the song Please Don't Turn Me On.
However, Lifford has been open about his struggles with depression and anxiety since then and has been working as a music teacher, with his former mentees including the original line-up of the Sugababes.
Now, Lifford is hopng for a second shot at stardom, something that became a lot more likely when Alesha hit the Golden Buzzer for his rendition of the Sam Cooke song A Change is Gonna Come.
Alesha and Simon both praised Lifford's bravery in returning to the music industry, but the singer later came under fire from viewers for apparently being an old mate of Alesha's.
But he has cleared up the misunderstanding in an interview with Lorraine, where he described their "friendship" as "a 30-second conversation in 2001 in Ayia Napa" as he came off stage and she went on, offering each other congratulations on their performances.
Alesha admitted she wouldn’t usually have gone for a singer, saying: “It’s really interesting that we’ve all gone for singers this year. The fact that I sing and dance I consciously make an effort to go for a golden buzzer act that people aren’t expecting.
“But you can’t deny what moves you and what makes you feel good. It’s interesting that even David has gone for a singer, I get it with Simon because he generally goes for singers, and Amanda’s got an incredible singer, so yeah, this year is battle of the singers!”
Amanda Holden - Gruffydd Wyn Jones
Anglesey lad Gruffydd Wyn Roberts doesn’t look like your typical opera singer – the 22-year-old enjoys playing rugby with his mates at his local club.
Gruffydd works as a theatre assistant and lives with his grandmother in Alwena.
He spoke of his nerves before his audition, saying: “If I get booed off, I don’t know what I’ll feel. I never thought I would pluck up the courage to do this today if it wasn't for my mates and my family.”
Plenty of Gruffydd’s friends and family turned out to cheer him on at the auditions, but things didn’t quite go according to plan to begin with.
Simon Cowell stopped him just a few bars into his first choice of Un Giorno Per Noi, which clearly shook Gruffydd’s confidence a bit.
But he managed to pull himself together and try again with Nessun Dorma, which raised the roof.
All four of the judges were delighted for Gruffydd that he managed to impress with his first audition.
Alesha Dixon told him: "I don't know you well but there's something about you that I just wanted you to win. I really did."
Simon Cowell added: "That song is the ultimate underdog song. And when you can nail that song in an environment like this with everything that's going through your head, you deserve what you just got. You have it in you, Gruffydd."
The singer’s Golden Buzzer champion Amanda Holden said: "When you were 10 and Paul Potts auditioned on this show 12 years ago, he blew us away with that song and oh my god, you just did the same."
When do the live shows start and what time are they on?
As usual, live finals week will be taking place each evening over the final week in May.
Dates just released show that the live semi-finals will be going out on ITV from Monday, May 28 until Friday, June 1st.
The grand final takes place on Sunday, June 3rd and lasts over 2 and a half hours.
All the latest Britain's Got Talent news:
How to watch Britain's Got Talent on BT TV?
Tune in to ITV every Saturday at 8pm.
Set your BT box to series record or catch up via the ITV Hub app.
What time is Britain's Got Talent on?
The first auditions episode airs at 8pm.
Britain's Got More Talent follows on ITV2, hosted for the 12th year in a row by Stephen Mulhern.
So, what can fans expect on More Talent this year?
We’ve got a new item with Amanda called Low and Be-Holden, where Amanda goes up against ex Britain’s Got Talent acts from
previous years. So, for example, she's put in a jumpsuit covered in balloons, as is Paul Potts, and the winner is the first to burst them all without using their hands. We’ve also got some of the funniest stuff with Ant and Dec, we’ve brought back Wonky Donkey from SMTV: Live. It’s bizarre seeing them play their own game! Oh, and David was on top form this year. He’s been brilliant. The one thing he’ll never let me forget though is that he’s got an OBE!
How do I apply to take part?
You're too late for the 2018 series. Applications closed at the end of 2016. However, there's plenty of time to get your act together for series 13 in 2019.
Who are the previous Britain's Got Talent winners?
2007 - Paul Potts
2008 - George Sampson
2009 - Diversity
2010 - Spelbound
2011 - Jai McDowall
2012 - Ashleigh and Pudsey
2013 - Attraction
2014 - Collabro
2015 - Jules O'Dwyer & Matisse
2016 - Richard Jones
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Main photo credit: Thames / Syco Entertainment