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Britain’s Got Talent: Motorcycle stunts, dynamite and fire-starting scientists – Why the whole family will love the new series
The ITV talent show is set to deliver another series of heart-warming family entertainment guaranteed to bring the nation together every Saturday night.
Britain’s Got Talent launches a staggering 14th series this week - 8pm on Easter Saturday April 11, mark your diaries - but even a decade and a half into the show’s history it still has an incredible hold over the nation.
While other reality shows such as X Factor and Celebrity Big Brother have faded and series such as I’m a Celebrity or Strictly Come Dancing feel dependent on the casting process, Britain’s Got Talent remains a reliable and comforting watch every Spring.
Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, David Walliams and Alesha Dixon have formed the show’s much-loved judging panel, teasing and cajoling each other to create nine series of weird and wonderful entertainment.
Meanwhile, Ant and Dec remain the ringmasters who keep the circus rolling, bringing warmth and humour, no matter how many singing pensioners, dancing dogs and child choirs they see in a single day.
Series 14 arrives at a moment when Britain is struggling, but hopefully a Saturday night entertainment show can offer some distraction and joy for millions, even if it’s just for a couple of hours every week.
Here are three reasons the new series might be the best one yet…
BGT is going back to its roots
“I wanted it to feel more like it did when we first started,” says Simon Cowell, explaining why he thinks series 14 of BGT might be the best one in a number of years.
“I wanted to bring it back to the Paul Potts, Connie Talbots, you know? Paul was working at a phone shop and came on to have a go, and now look at his career! That’s what we set out to do with this show in the first place.”
Cowell’s biggest TV hits, X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, flourished in their early years because they harnessed a sense of magic that they could turn just about anyone into a megastar.
Susan Boyle became a sensation around the world with a single audition. Paul Potts went from a mobile phone shop to a household name at the flip of a coin. Dance troupe Diversity remain an arena-filling draw and several members have had individual success as TV presenters, reality TV stars and choreographers.
The show has faced some criticism in recent years that it has invited well-established talent to give them an extra leg-up, rather than finding singing sensations on supermarket checkouts, or dance dynamos in the school playground.
However, Cowell believes that it is the possibility that someone’s life can change in a single opportunity which remains the show’s big drawing power.
“I personally like judging someone who has never done this before, I find the whole process more interesting,” Cowell admits.
“I think you relate more to people who are just out there giving it a go, 100%. I wanted to have that warmth to the show. The whole idea of making a show like this is it should be escapism.
"Fourteen years ago Paul Potts famously tossed a coin in the air over whether he should audition or not. Now he’s selling out tours and has made a fortune. The show changed his life.”
Motorcycles, dynamite and unicycles
The enduring appeal of the BGT auditions is that among the many talented singers, dancers and performing dogs, there are a never-ending supply of Britain’s finest eccentric entertainers.
The class of 2020 include an “incredible unicyclist” and “a scientist who set fire to a load of balls”. There’s also a healthy dose of dangerous stunt acts that give David Walliams and Simon Cowell a fright.
Cowell admits he was “bloody nervous” when he ended up on stage with a Royal Marine who has an explosive special skill.
“He had dynamite in his mouth and he was asking me to make a series of decisions. I was like, ‘What if this goes wrong?’," recalled the judge.
“When I have thought something might actually go seriously wrong during an act I have stood up in the past and said, ‘You know what? We’re not continuing with this’.”
He had dynamite in his mouth and he was asking me to make a series of decisions. I was like, 'What if this goes wrong?'
- Simon Cowell
David Walliams will also get an opportunity to put his own nerve to the test when a motorcycle stunt driver brings him on stage.
“It was quite scary because I had never seen that guy before,” said Walliams.
“I mean, I’m assuming he’s good at what he does! I was told that I had to remain completely still so I couldn’t really see what was going on because all I could do is just stare up at the ceiling.
“It was quite scary because I didn’t really know what he was doing but I just put my trust in the show that I wasn’t going to get hurt. I mean I just guessed that if the producers were up for it there was a good chance he wasn’t going to hurt me.
“But I think those moments are good because it’s fun when one of us gets on the stage because it’s intense. I guess it was pleasurable for Simon to see me in danger!”
A dance act to rival Diversity
Series 3 of Britain’s Got Talent remains a high watermark for the show because it gave us not only the famous Susan Boyle moment, but also the dance troupe, Diversity.
Ashley Banjo’s high-flipping, body-popping gang set an incredibly high bar for dance acts on the show which none have so far surpassed.
But, according to Amanda Holden, they may have finally found a group from India who can give them a run for their money,
“We hate having to refer back to Diversity because we sound like a broken record but for me, still, I can’t name any other dance crews who were as good or as imaginative as them,” says Holden.
“They’re the ones that have stood out and they’ve always stood out, and they’re the ones we’ve always measured everything else by.
“But these dancers I think I will remember for a long time, I honestly think they can compete with Diversity.”
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