Britain's Got Talent series 12 kicked off its auditions last weekend 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 in May. 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 2 starts on Saturday, April 21st at 8pm on ITV.
Episode two preview:
The funniest Britain's Got Talent comic ever?
'Lost Voice Guy' Lee Ridley is a self-proclaimed struggling stand-up comedian but has our BGT judges in stitches. Due to cerebral palsy Lee cannot speak and uses an iPad to communicate his unique comedy routine.
A Manchester bomb attack tribute
RISE are a dance group who are sharing an inspirational message of positivity and hope. The group perform their routine using wheelchairs in solidarity to one dancer, Hollie, who was injured in the Manchester Attack last year.
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.
I love my golden buzzer this year. 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.
I pressed it on the first day in Blackpool and that’s not something I would have predicted. I thought I would have played a longer
game. I thought I’d be paranoid that I would miss out on so much more. But you have to go with the feeling in your tummy and I got
that feeling. I had to press my golden buzzer. It was right in the moment; the man did an amazing rendition of his song. For me he
was in absolutely the right time, the right moment, the right person.
I can’t wait to see what he does in the live shows
When do the live shows start and what time are they on?
The date is not confirmed by ITV, but if it follows last year's schedule they should start on the week commencing either May 21st or May 28th.
The live final would then either be on May 28th or June 2nd.
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