All you need to know about Britain’s Got Talent

There have been a few tweaks to BGT this year...

Britain’s Got Talent is up and running and back on telly for a 12th series – and the Golden Buzzer has already been pressed!

Contestants of all ages and skills will be seen auditioning at 8pm on Saturday nights before the show’s formidable judges with the hope of making it through to one of the live semi-finals, which usually dominate the ITV schedule for an entire week.

The two winning acts from each semi then go on to compete in the grand final for a cash prize and the opportunity to perform at the Royal Variety Performance.

Dates for the latter stages of this year’s series are still pending, but it looks as if the live series finale will happen in late May or early June.

For the last five years, the winner’s prize fund has been £250,000 – but the amount has not yet been confirmed for this year’s series.

Scrub up well, don’t they? (Credit: Syco)

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Devised by Simon Cowell, BGT has aired on ITV since 2007. Throughout that long run it has been hosted by Ant and Dec – although that will change for this series.

It has always been a ratings success for ITV, but viewing figures did peak for the 2009 live results show where Diversity pipped Susan Boyle and Julian Smith to first place.

That show was watched by over 18 million people. Last year’s final reportedly attracted the smallest audience for the ultimate stage in the show’s history, pulling in just over 10 million viewers.

Ant will not play a part in 2018’s live show (Credit: Syco/ITV)

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Here’s a little bit more info about BGT to whet your viewing appetite…

What’s new with Britain’s Got Talent in 2018?

– The talent scout auditions before the TV auditions usually take place in any number of cities from London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester and Cardiff.

This year, Benidorm was added to that list. Wouldn’t it be amazing if the Garveys turned up?

– Fears Britain’s Got More Talent presenter Stephen Mulhern may be forced to miss out on hosting the ITV2 sister show due to illness proved unfounded after the 41-year-old revealed ITV bosses consider him irreplaceable.

Stephen, who lost his voice while unwell, was given time off in January and assumed another presenter would step in.

Stephen: irreplaceable (Credit: Syco)

However, filming was rescheduled and performers had to return on different dates for their BGMT segments.

He told the Radio Times: “At one point, I did say they should get someone else to do the days I wasn’t there so that we still had content.

“But ITV said, and I took this as a huge compliment, that I’ve made the show my own and there’s no other presenter they could see doing it in the style I do it.”

– The fallout from Ant McPartlin’s arrest for drink-driving – and subsequent £86,000 fine and 20 month driving ban after he plead guilty to the charge – means his BGT partnership with Declan Donnelly will be broken up for the first time in the show’s history.

The star’s publicist had already said Ant would be stepping away from telly commitments for the “foreseeable future” but the audition rounds had been filmed by the time of the incident in March.

His appearance on last weekend’s first show of the series caused concern for some viewers who felt the troubled host fought back tears as magician Marc Spelmann revealed his emotional family story.

Ant’s appearance on the first show of 2018 (Credit: ITV)

And although both Simon Cowell and ITV bosses have wished Ant all the best with his problems, he will not return for the live shows.

A BGT spokesman confirmed: “Declan Donnelly will host Britain’s Got Talent live shows on his own while Ant McPartlin ‘steps down from his TV commitments for now’.”

Who are the judges for this series of Britain’s Got Talent?

Simon Cowell and Amanda Holden are the only judges to have been ever present for all 12 series so far, with David Williams and Alesha Dixon also permanent fixtures since series 6 in 2012.

In contrast to the constant carousel of judges that seem to be rumoured for The X Factor, it looks as if this line up may be here to stay.

Amanda Holden has been on board since day one (Credit: Syco)

BGMT’s Stephen recently claimed on Lorraine that he expected Simon, Amanda, Alesha and David to continue in their roles for another four or so years.

“It just works, everyone gets on and everyone has a good time,” he said, noting former Mr Nasty Simon is “more relaxed than he’s ever been”.

For the first four series, there were only three judges – with Piers Morgan sitting in the third chair.

Alesha has been ever present since 2012 (Credit: Syco)

Comedian Michael McIntyre and Baywatch David Hasselhoff were recruited for one run to beef up the team and replace Piers then joined the team in 2011.

There have been guest judges, too. Kelly Brook, Louise Walsh, Carmen Electra, Ant and Dec and David Walliams’ mum Kathleen have all filled in.

David’s mum has been a guest judge (Credit: Syco)

What BGT controversies have there been?

BGT has been dogged by ‘fix’ claims from viewers over the years, with the most recent example being when Ashley Banjo’s street dance troupe DVJ sailed through their audition.

There have been criticism from high profile stars about allowing children to participate, too.

The late Sir Bruce Forsyth pondered whether a separate show might be more appropriate.

He said: “I don’t think that’s entertainment. I don’t think they should put children on that are too young.

“If you’re going to do that, have a separate show. Have a children’s show.”

Singer Jessie J added: “I cannot agree with kids having to go through three or four auditions when it’s purely for ridicule.

“I don’t understand why it’s legal, I think it’s wrong.”

And then there was Susan Boyle

Who are the previous winners of Britain’s Got Talent?

Musicians and dancers have been the most popular with voting viewers – taking four and three wins respectively. Two dog trick acts have also triumphed.

Click on the links to watch each act’s first audition or grand finale perfomance.

BGT is the brainchild of Simon Cowell (Credit: Syco)

Britain’s Got Talent is on ITV, Saturdays at 8pm.

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