Britain's Got Talent returns to ITV on Saturday 15 April at 8pm, promising its biggest year yet of laughter, tears and talent.

One major change for this 16th series of BGT is on the judges' desk, which sees its first new face in 11 years as Bruno Tonioli replaces David Walliams.

Newcomer Bruno, best known as a judge on Strictly Come Dancing, will certainly have experienced faces alongside him as Alesha Dixon returns for her 11th series and the ever-present Simon Cowell and Amanda Holden take their seats for a 16th time.

Here’s all you need to know about the 2023 TV contest’s jury of light entertainment experts.

Britain's Got Talent's most controversial and shocking moments

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Simon Cowell

Simon Cowell ITV

Head judge Simon is the maestro of the show and the judge that every act wants to impress, whether they love him or loathe him.

Simon’s been present for every single series of Britain’s Got Talent, with a varying line-up of other celebrity judges joining him and Amanda Holden on the panel.

He has had two absences, however - he missed the 2011 auditions as he was launching X Factor USA at the time, and missed the 2020 live shows as a back injury had put him out of action.

He was replaced that year by Ashley Banjo, who had found fame on the show's 2009 third series as the leader of victorious street dance troupe Diversity.

Aside from putting the variety acts through their paces, Simon is best known for his role as head judge role on another ITV talent show, The X Factor, where he only ever missed a couple of series but always remained in charge, even if he was off screen. 

He’s a big deal Stateside, too, with regular gigs in charge of American Idol and America’s Got Talent.

Amanda Holden

BGT judge Amanda Holden ITV

It wouldn’t be Britain’s Got Talent without Amanda, who has served as Simon’s right-hand woman since series one.

With a love for musical theatre and a background on the stage, Amanda usually favours acts that fall into those categories – although just like her fellow judges, she can’t resist a dog act.

Amanda’s well-known for her TV roles in hairdressing drama Cutting It, family adventure Wild at Heart, and circus sitcom Big Top.

She has also been nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Actress in Thoroughly Modern Millie and starred as Princess Fiona in Shrek the Musical, so this is the mentor you want if you’re harbouring dreams of being on the stage.

Alesha Dixon

Alesha Dixon ITV

Singer, MC and former Strictly Come Dancing winner Alesha has occupied the third judge’s seat since series six.

The former Mis-Teeq star and successful solo artist can offer expert guidance to singing groups and dance troupes, and appeals to a younger audience than the other three judges.

Her time on Strictly, where she also served as a judge after winning, has given her insight into the ballroom and Latin acts who often grace the stage, adding an extra string to her bow.

Her raucous laugh, friendship with Amanda, and willingness to get up and dance to almost anything have made her a popular judge.

Bruno Tonioli

Bruno Tonioli ITV

BGT hasn’t always featured a fourth judge – the end seat was added in series five when David Hasselhoff joined the panel for a single series. He was replaced by David Walliams in season six and the panel has remained the same - until now.

New addition Bruno Tonioli is anything but new to most Saturday night TV viewers. The Italian choreographer, dancer and TV presenter was a member of the judging panel on Strictly Come Dancing from its launch in 2004 until 2019.

For three series of Strictly, Bruno even sat alongside fellow BGT judge Alesha Dixon, who has been reacquanting herself with his physical judging style since he joined the panel.

"He does not know how to sit still. It’s like sitting next to an excitable puppy, I’m not even exaggerating. The first day I was like, 'what is happening here?'" she told Capital Breakfast host Roman Kemp.

"He likes to grab my arm, he’s very, you know, he’s very expressive and passionate. I’ve had a few Bruno bruises on the arms. I bruise like a peach…

“But bless him, it’s very hard coming into a very established unit well-oiled unit. I was very mindful to make him very welcome and to give him a great time, because he had big shoes to fill and it’s never easy being the newbie so he did very well.”

Bruno has also been ever-present on the panel of Strictly's American counterpart, Dancing With the Stars, since its launch in 2005.

Ultimately, it was the regular transatlantic flights, exacerbated by the Covid-related travel problems, which forced him to chose between the US and UK shows. 

Since leaving Strictly, Bruno has even crossed the floor to show off his unlikely singing talent to The Masked Dancer panel - in 2022 he came third as Pearly King in that show's second UK series.

Bruno was best known on Strictly for his ebullient outbursts and always-positive comments about the celebrity dancers, and he's certain to bring the same enthusiasm and encouragement to BGT's auditions and live shows. 

Who else has judged BGT?

Odd as it seems now, the third judge who sat alongside Simon and Amanda for the first four series of BGT was former tabloid editor and outspoken Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan.

He was replaced by comedian Michael McIntyre for series five, but despite being an incredibly popular TV star at the time, somehow his humour didn’t quite translate to the role in the same way that David’s does.

Baywatch and Knight Rider legend David Hasselhoff also joined series five for a single run, but although his role on the panel didn’t last long, he did gain a new wife: he met Hayley Roberts in Cardiff while he was filming auditions in the Welsh capital, and the couple married in 2018.

The Hoff was replaced by another David, comedian David Walliams, in 2012, and the panel has remained the same ever since.

Walliams' BGT stint will be best remembered for his ability to wind up Simon Cowell with outrageous behaviour and by giving fulsome support to quirky - and even talentless - acts which he knew the high-waisted head judge would dislike.

Other guest judges over the years have included Ashley Banjo, Kelly Brook, Louis Walsh and Carmen Electra, and of course hosts Ant and Dec get a Golden Buzzer choice each year, too.

What is the Britain's Got Talent Golden Buzzer?

All four of the show’s judges have red buzzers which they use to vote off acts they don't like - if four red buzzers illuminate the four Xs above the stage, the 'talent' has to end their act there and then and their dreams of glory are over.

In the centre of the judges' desk is a sole Golden Buzzer. This can be pressed once by each judge during the auditions if they think an act deserves to go straight through to the live semi-finals rather than having to face a nervous wait as the quartet to whittle down their picks to the 40 or so who take part in the live shows.

Hosts Ant and Dec also have a Golden Buzzer pick between them - they just have to step down from the stage to press it.

Since 2014's eighth series there have been five Golden Buzzer acts each year, but ITV have revealed that this year's show will have no fewer than eight fast-track contestants!

Apparently a new joint Golden Buzzer will be introduced this series to allow all four judges to agree on an act to put straight through, and it's also rumoured that both Simon and Bruno broke the rules by pressing their buzzers for a second act. 

BGT's Golden Buzzer: How it works and has there ever been a Golden Buzzer winner?

Who are the Britain's Got Talent hosts?

BGT hosts Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly ITV

As though you need to ask, Britain's Got Talent will once again be hosted by Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly - better known as Ant and Dec.

The pair have been sending acts on stage and cheering them on from the wings since the first series back in 2007, and Britain's Got Talent has become as much a part of their annual routine as springtime entertainment show Saturday Night Takeaway and their winter trip to the Australian jungle for I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!

Britain's Got Talent 2023 starts on ITV on Saturday 15 April at 8pm.

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