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Britain's Got Talent

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Title: Britain's Got Talent  
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Britain's Got Talent

Britain's Got Talent
Genre Reality
Created by Simon Cowell
Directed by Jonathan Bullen
Presented by
Voices of Peter Dickson
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 8
No. of episodes 128 (as of series 8) (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Nigel Hall
Lee McNicholas
Amelia Brown
Richard Holloway
Producer(s) Matt Banks
Charlie Irwin
Paul Jones
Location(s) Various (auditions)
Fountain Studios (live shows)
Running time 60–150 minutes
Production company(s) Talkback Thames (2007–11)
Thames (2012–)
Distributor FremantleMedia
Original channel ITV
Picture format HDTV: 1080i (2011–)
SDTV: 576i (2007–10)
Original run 9 June 2007 (2007-06-09) – present
Related shows Britain's Got More Talent
The X Factor
Red or Black?
External links
Official website

Britain's Got Talent (often shortened to BGT) is a series 5 and Cowell was only present during the live shows, while David Hasselhoff and Michael McIntyre joined the panel. Alesha Dixon and David Walliams joined the panel in series 6 as replacements for McIntyre and Hasselhoff.

Throughout the show, contestants must perform in front of the judges, and each year initial auditions have been held in front of a live audience. Auditions precede live semi-finals, where the final 45 contestants (24 in series 1, 40 in series 2–5) perform nightly for a week in order to impress the British and Irish public. Each night, two acts from each semi-final (the act with the most votes and another chosen by the judges from the acts in second and third place) progress to the live final which takes place on the Saturday of the following week (the same week in series 1–6). There have been eight winners to date: Diversity, Spelbound, Jai McDowall, Ashleigh and Pudsey, Attraction and Collabro. The winner of each series is given the opportunity to perform at the Royal Variety Performance in front of members of the British Royal Family, including Queen Elizabeth II, and also receives a cash prize of £250,000 (£100,000 in series 1–5, £500,000 in series 6).

Britain's Got Talent is Britain's second biggest television talent competition (after The X Factor) and has also proven popular throughout Europe. The series 3 live final brought in 17.3 million viewers, a 64.6% audience share.[1] On 15 November 2013, it was announced that a new deal had been signed to keep Britain's Got Talent on air until 2016.[2]


The show's format was devised by [6]

On 12 February 2007, following the success of Amanda Holden as judges. Ant & Dec were announced as presenters, with Stephen Mulhern as the presenter of ITV2 spin-off series Britain's Got More Talent.



The auditions take place in front of the judges and a live audience at different cities across the UK. Unlike on The X Factor, at any time during the audition, the judges may show disapproval to the act by pressing a buzzer which lights a large red "X" on the stage, indicating that they particularly dislike the act and do not wish the performance to continue. If all the judges press their buzzers, the act must end immediately.

From series 1 to 5, it was three buzzers due to the show having three judges, but from series 6 onwards it is four buzzers due to the show having four judges. From series 1 to 5, (with the sole exception of the Manchester auditions in series 3, since there were four judges), voting worked on a majority-of-two basis where two positive votes were required. From series 6 onwards, voting works on a majority-of-three basis as there are four judges. The judging panel give an act a "Yes" if they like them and would like them to return in a subsequent episode, and a "No" if they dislike the act and do not wish to see them again. Series 8 saw a new golden buzzer, which each judge, along with Ant & Dec, could press once and only once during the entirety of the auditions. Pressing the buzzer would immediately send the act through to the live semi-finals, regardless of the other judges' opinions.


After the auditions, the judges have to whittle almost 200 successful acts down to just 24 (series 1), 40 (series 2 to series 5) or 45 (series 6 and 7). All the performers are called back to discover if they have progressed to the live semi-finals. During series 5, some acts were asked to perform again to try to get through to the semi-finals as the judges were having difficulty coming to a final decision on whom to send through to the semi-finals.[7] This was the first and only time this had happened in the history of the show.


The semi-finals and final are broadcast live from The Fountain Studios in Wembley (which is also used for The X Factor), with a varying number of semi-finals, followed by the one live final (sometimes split into two episodes over one night). The remaining 40–45 acts perform in semi-finals, with the two most popular acts from each semi-final winning a position in the final. Judges may still end a performance early with three Xs from series 1 to 4, and four Xs from series 5 onward. After all acts have performed, phone lines open for a short time, while the public vote for the act they think was the best. After the votes have been counted, the act that has polled the highest number of public votes is automatically placed in the final. The judges then choose between the second and third most popular acts, with the winner of that vote also gaining a place in the final. All other acts are then eliminated from the competition.

From series 5, the rules relating to judges' votes in the results show changed from previous series. In the past, the decision as to which act was sent through to the finals was made by the three judges (from which there would always be a majority). Now that there are four judges, if there is a two-way tie, then, just like The X Factor, the act with the second highest number of votes from the public would be sent through to the finals, otherwise the judges' decision stands.

The show's secondary theme song is a full orchestral version of "Lux Aeterna" by Clint Mansell (produced for the theatrical trailer of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, but originally written for the film Requiem for a Dream), which is used to create tension. It is also used for the judges' arrival at the beginning of every live show.


In series 6, a wildcard element was introduced. This is where judges pick an eliminated act from the semi-finals, and that act is sent through to the final. In series 6, the wildcard act selected was The Mend. In series 7, the wildcard was Steve Hewlett and in series 8, Jon Clegg.

Series overview

To date, eight series have been broadcast, as summarised below.

Series Premiere Finale Winner Runner-up Third place Host(s) Judging panel Guest judge(s)
One 9 June 2007 17 June 2007 Paul Potts not announced Ant & Dec Simon Cowell
Amanda Holden
Piers Morgan
Two 12 April 2008 31 May 2008 George Sampson Signature Andrew Johnston
Three 11 April 2009 30 May 2009 Diversity Susan Boyle Julian Smith Kelly Brook
Four 17 April 2010 5 June 2010 Spelbound Twist and Pulse Kieran Gaffney

Louis Walsh

Five 16 April 2011 4 June 2011 Jai McDowall Ronan Parke New Bounce Simon Cowell
Amanda Holden
David Hasselhoff
Michael McIntyre
Six 24 March 2012 12 May 2012 Ashleigh and Pudsey Jonathan and Charlotte Only Boys Aloud Simon Cowell
Amanda Holden
Alesha Dixon
David Walliams
Carmen Electra
Seven 13 April 2013 8 June 2013 Attraction Jack Carroll Richard & Adam N/A
Eight 12 April 2014 7 June 2014 Collabro Lucy Kay Bars & Melody Ant & Dec
Nine 2015 2015
  1. ^ Brook was a guest fourth judge for the Manchester auditions; was originally planned to be permanent judge.
  2. ^ Walsh served as a guest judge for the Birmingham auditions (substituting for Cowell) in series 4 and for the London auditions (substituting for Hasselhoff) in series 5.
  3. ^ Cowell was only a judge for the live shows in series 5. Holden served as head judge during the auditions.
  4. ^ Electra served as a guest judge for the London auditions (substituting for Holden) in series 6.
  5. ^ Ant & Dec served as guest judges on the first day of the Manchester auditions (substituting for Cowell) in series 8.

Series 1 (2007)

The first series of Britain's Got Talent began on 9 June 2007 and ended on 17 June. The judges were Amanda Holden and Simon Cowell. The show was hosted by Ant & Dec on ITV, whilst Stephen Mulhern presented sister show Britain's Got More Talent on ITV2. During January and February 2007, applicants auditioned in Manchester, Birmingham, London and Cardiff. The first five episodes covered the auditions and the final four episodes were the live semi-finals and final. The series was eventually won by opera singer Paul Potts.

Series 2 (2008)

The second series of Britain's Got Talent included notable differences from the first series, including the fact that the auditions visited Scotland and that there were forty acts in the live semi-finals. The series also ran for longer, lasting for seven weeks instead of one. Morgan, Holden and Cowell returned as judges. Ant & Dec returned to present the main show and Mulhern returned to present Britain's Got More Talent. The series was won by street-dancer Signature coming in second and singer Andrew Johnston third.

Series 3 (2009)

Britain's Got Talent returned for its third series on 11 April 2009.[8] Ant & Dec continued as hosts and Mulhern returned to host Britain's Got More Talent. Cowell, Holden and Morgan returned as judges. Kelly Brook was originally announced as a new fourth judge[8] but was fired after just six days, having acted as a judge at the Manchester auditions only.[9] The semi-finals were from 24–29 May (no semi-final on 27 May) and the final was on 30 May. Diversity were announced the winners, with Susan Boyle as runner-up and Julian Smith in third.

Series 4 (2010)

The 2010 panel of judges remained unchanged, with Cowell, Holden and Morgan all returning. Auditions were held in Glasgow, Manchester, Cardiff, Newcastle, Birmingham, and London. Due to illness, Simon was unable to attend the filming of the Birmingham auditions and Louis Walsh stood in for him.[10] The first programme of series 4 was broadcast on 17 April 2010.[11] Spelbound won the final on 5 June 2010, with Twist and Pulse as runners-up and Kieran Gaffney placing third.

Series 5 (2011)

Britain's Got Talent returned for its fifth series on 16 April 2011.[12] Auditions took place in January 2011 in Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, London and, for the first time, Liverpool. Ant & Dec continued as main hosts on ITV, while Mulhern again hosted Britain's Got More Talent on ITV2. Among the judges, [13] Cowell was only present for the live shows only as during the auditions he was busy launching The X Factor USA.[14] Amanda Holden returned to the regular judging panel, joined by David Hasselhoff and Michael McIntyre.[15][16] Louis Walsh also appeared as a guest judge in the London auditions whilst Hasselhoff was appearing in pantomime.[17] The winner was Jai McDowall, while Ronan Parke finished as runner-up and New Bounce in third.

Series 6 (2012)

ITV confirmed in June 2011 that Britain's Got Talent would be returning for a sixth series in 2012. In September and November 2011, it was announced that McIntyre and Hasselhoff would not be returning to the judging panel.[18] Despite rumours of Holden being absent for the auditions stage, she confirmed via her Twitter account that she would be participating in the entire series.[19] In December 2011, it was announced that Cowell would be returning as a full-time judge for the series.[20][21] On 2 January, David Walliams and Alesha Dixon were confirmed as judges, with Dixon leaving her role on Strictly Come Dancing.[22] Holden missed some of the auditions due to her pregnancy and due to being critically ill after giving birth.[23] The series was won by Ashleigh and Pudsey, a girl and her dancing dog. Opera duo Jonathan and Charlotte came second and Welsh boys choir Only Boys Aloud took the third place. Ashleigh and Pudsey received £500,000 as a prize for their win.

Series 7 (2013)

ITV confirmed on 12 May 2012 that series 7 would air in 2013. The judges would remain as Cowell, Holden, Dixon, and Walliams. Ant & Dec would remain as hosts for the main show and Stephen Mulhern also returned to ITV2 as host of Britain's Got More Talent. On 16 January 2013, the live judges audition tour started in Cardiff and ended in Birmingham. The series first aired on ITV on 13 April 2013.[24] The series was won by Attraction, with Jack Carroll finishing second and Richard & Adam coming third.

Series 8 (2014)

Cowell confirmed on 1 June 2013 that series 8 would air in 2014. He returned to the judging panel alongside Holden, Dixon and Walliams.[25] Cowell was unable to attend the first day of the Manchester auditions and the final day of the London auditions. The main show's presenters Ant & Dec served as guest judges at the Manchester auditions. The series first aired on ITV on 12 April 2014 and saw a new golden buzzer, in which each judge (and Ant & Dec) could press once and only once during the entire auditions. Pressing the buzzer would immediately send the act through to the semi-finals, regardless of the other judges' opinions. The series was won by Collabro, with Lucy Kay finishing second and Bars & Melody, a golden buzzer act, coming third.

Series 9 (2015)

At the conclusion of the eighth series, it was announced that the show would return for a ninth series.[26] On 31 October 2014, Holden confirmed that that she, Cowell, Dixon and Walliams would return as judges.[27][28]

Judges and presenters

Series 1 and 2 consisted of original judges, music executive and television producer Birmingham auditions, so fellow The X Factor judge Louis Walsh stepped in for him.[31]

Morgan revealed that he would not return as a judge for the fifth series as he was preparing to take over the highly popular Larry King Live talk show on CNN in America. Cowell also announced he would not be present during the auditions, as he would be busy launching The X Factor USA; however he confirmed he would be present for the live shows.[32] It was revealed that comedian Michael McIntyre would be completing the judging panel,[33] as would actor, singer and former America's Got Talent judge David Hasselhoff.[34] Hasselhoff was absent during the London auditions due to his commitments with a pantomime and Walsh returned as a guest judge. For the live shows, Hasselhoff and McIntyre remained as judges, with Cowell becoming a fourth judge.

In October 2011, it was announced that neither Hasselhoff nor McIntyre would be returning as a judge for the sixth series, while Cowell returned full-time.[18] On 2 January 2012, it was announced that Alesha Dixon and David Walliams would replace McIntyre and Hasselhoff for the sixth series.[35] Holden missed some auditions due to her giving birth to her daughter, and some after-effects. On 6 February 2012, actress and model Carmen Electra was announced as Holden's replacement for the London auditions. Series 7 remained with Cowell, Holden, Dixon and Walliams on the judging panel. It was announced that all judges from series 6 and 7 would return for series 8. Cowell was unable to attend the first day of the Manchester auditions and the final day of the London auditions. The show's presenters Ant & Dec filled in for him in Manchester.

Since the first series, the main show has been presented by British comedy and presenting duo Ant & Dec, consisting of Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly. Stephen Mulhern hosts the companion show, Britain's Got More Talent, on ITV2 and has also done so since the first series in 2007.


Britain's Got More Talent

Britain's Got More Talent
Created by Simon Cowell
Presented by Stephen Mulhern
No. of series 8
Producer(s) Tim Dean
Location(s) The Fountain Studios
Running time 60-65 minutes
Original channel ITV2 (UK)
TV3 (Ireland)
Picture format 1080p: HDTV (2011–)
576i: SDTV (2007–10)
Original run 9 June 2007 (2007-06-09) – present
Related shows Britain's Got Talent
The Xtra Factor

Britain's Got More Talent is a companion show which is broadcast on ITV2 and on TV3 in Ireland, after the main ITV and TV3 Britain's Got Talent broadcast, similar to The X Factor's ITV2 companion show The Xtra Factor. Stephen Mulhern has hosted the show from the first series. It features acts that were not shown in the main show, as well as, before and after interviews with the contestants and behind-the-scenes footage.

Each year, after the series has come to an end, Britain's Got More Talent has a week of special programmes entitled Britain's Got Talent: Best and Worst, featuring the best and worst auditions from the series, ranging from two to five episodes each year. This series is also hosted by Mulhern, though the series may feature clips of Ant & Dec interviewing the acts beforehand.


Awards and nominations

Britain's Got Talent has been nominated for a number of National Television Awards in the category of 'Most Popular Talent Show' since 2007. But has lost out to its sister shows The X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing. Ant and Dec have won the award for 'Most Popular Entertainment Presenters' at the same awards for twelve consecutive years (as of January 2014). Britain's Got Talent has also been nominated for two British Academy Television Awards in 2008, but failed to win any awards. In 2007 and 2008, the show was nominated at the TV Quick and Choice Awards in the 'Best Talent Show' category, losing out to The X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing respectively.

In 2008, it was a recipient of a The X Factor in the 'Reality TV Presenter' category for Ant & Dec and two nominations in the 'Reality TV Judge' category for Cowell and Morgan.

Year Group Award Nominee Result
2007 National Television Awards Most Popular Talent Show Britain's Got Talent Nominated
Most Popular Entertainment Presenter Ant & Dec Won
Nickelodeon UK Kids' Choice Awards Best Reality Show Britain's Got Talent Nominated
Best TV Presenters Ant & Dec Won
TV Quick and Choice Awards Best Talent Show Britain's Got Talent Nominated
2008 National Television Awards Most Popular Talent Show Nominated
Most Popular Entertainment Presenter Ant & Dec Won
Nickelodeon UK Kids' Choice Awards Favourite Winner George Sampson Won
British Academy Television Awards Lew Grade Award Britain's Got Talent Nominated
Audience Award Nominated
Royal Television Society Programme Awards Best Production Design-Entertainment Dominic Tolfts Won
Nickelodeon UK Kids' Choice Awards Best TV Presenters Ant & Dec Won
Best Family TV Show Britain's Got Talent Won
Best TV Baddie Simon Cowell Won
2009 TV Quick and Choice Awards Best Talent Show Britain's Got Talent Nominated
Digital Spy Reality TV Awards Favourite TV Reality Nominated
Favourite TV Reality Judge Simon Cowell Nominated
Piers Morgan Nominated
Favourite TV Reality Presenters Ant & Dec Nominated
Favourite Reality Contestant George Sampson Won
2010 National Television Awards Most Popular Talent Show Britain's Got Talent Nominated
British Academy Television Awards Best Entertainment Programme Won
2011 National Television Awards Most Popular Talent Show Nominated
TV Choice Awards Best Talent Show Won
2012 National Television Awards Most Popular Talent Show Nominated
2013 Broadcast Awards Best Entertainment Programme Nominated
National Television Awards Most Popular Talent Show Nominated
2014 Nominated
2015 Pending

Controversy and criticism

In series 1, the show was criticised for not visiting Scotland. Extra audition dates were added in series 2, and the judges visited Scotland.

The show was criticised by psychologist Glenn Wilson, who referred to it as a "freak show". He stated that "[contestants'] deficiencies and shortcomings are as important as their talent. We enjoy the stress we are putting these people under – will they or will they not survive?"[36]

The treatment of contestants at the audition stage was heavily criticised by the Daily Mail, which described applicants being kept waiting for over 10 hours with no food or drink provided, with no certainty of being allowed to perform more than a few seconds of their act. It also detailed how staff intentionally built up the hopes of low-quality performers in order to maximise the dramatic effect of the judges' put-downs, and the fine points of the contracts performers must sign, which gives the show infinite freedom to "modify" the footage for their own purposes, and to use the footage indefinitely for whatever purpose they choose.[37]

In two separate interviews in 2012, MC Kinky said "Shows like X Factor and Britain's Got Talent reduce the art of making music and practising your craft to the level of a low rent game show with huge financial backing and support. It's a means to make money, not a means to produce ground breaking or interesting artists that demonstrate what they are feeling or are compelled to do. It's corporate"[38] and "it's a churn 'em out fast food form of putrid shit that I have no affiliation with".[39]

In 2013, Bruce Forsyth questioned the show's allowing children to audition. 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, British Children Have Talent."[40]

In 2013 it was revealed that up to 50% of acts on the televised shows had been headhunted by producers. In 2012, electropop band Superpowerless were approached to appear in the semi-finals. They attended the audition after assurances that the act would be portrayed in a positive light. On the day they felt that all interviews, especially those with Stephen Mulhern, were conducted in a manner intending to portray them in a negative light, reducing their act to a novelty/comedy routine intended for ridicule and humiliation. While many newspapers wrote articles on this topic, very few were published as the news outlets were told that running the story would cut that publication out of any advance coverage of the show in the future.[41]

Live tour

On 17 April 2008, a thirteen date live tour was announced visiting the UK's major cities during the month of June, featuring the semi-finalists, the finalists and the winner from series two, along with a few surprises. Stephen Mulhern hosted the tour, which began on 6 June. None of the judging panel were present, and there was no live voting. After high demand for tickets, the tour was later extended to twenty two performances, including matinées. The tour featured all ten finalists, as well as semi-finalists Tracey Lee Collins and Anya Sparks. The tour also featured a duet with Faryl Smith and Andrew Johnston.

On 13 January 2009, a four date tour was announced with dates in Newcastle, Cardiff, Liverpool and Manchester. More dates were later added and the tour ran for eighteen shows from 12–26 June 2009 and also travelled to Dublin, Birmingham, Belfast, Sheffield, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Nottingham, London, Aberdeen and Bournemouth.

The tour in 2009 included: Diversity, Flawless, Aidan Davis, Shaun Smith, Stavros Flatley, Hollie Steel, 2 Grand, Julian Smith, Shaheen Jafargholi, Susan Boyle, Darth Jackson, DJ Talent and the 2008 winner, George Sampson. Stephen Mulhern hosted the tour.

The tour returned in 2010, this time hosted by comedian Paddy McGuinness. The show also added a new city to the schedule, Brighton. The tour included all the finalists: Spelbound, Twist & Pulse, Kieran Gaffney, Tobias Mead, Tina & Chandi, Paul Burling, Christopher Stone, Janey Cutler, Liam McNally and Connected. The tour lasted from 19 June to 11 July. With 16 cites and 23 shows, it was the longest Britain's Got Talent Tour to date.

The tour in 2011 included all the finalists: Jai McDowall, Ronan Parke, New Bounce, Razy Gogonea, Michael Collings, Paul Gbegbaje, Steven Hall, James Hobley, Les Gibson and Jean Martyn.[42]

In 2012, due to very low ticket sales the tour was axed.[43]

Best-selling albums

These albums were sold after Britain's Got Talent. The sales numbers are UK sales only.

Artists with BPI certified albums

Former contestant
Total sales
Debut album Second album Third album Fourth album
Susan Boyle
(Series 3, Runner-up)
I Dreamed a Dream
(23 November 2009)
3x Platinum

Peak: 1
The Gift
(8 November 2010)

Peak: 1
Someone to Watch Over Me
(1 November 2011)
Peak: 1
Paul Potts
(Series 1, Winner)
One Chance
(16 July 2007)
2x Platinum

Peak: 1
(1 June 2009)

Peak: 5
Cinema Paradiso
(15 October 2010)

Peak: did not chart
Andrew Johnston
(Series 2, 3rd place)
One Voice
(29 September 2008)

Peak: 4
Richard & Adam
(Series 7, 3rd place)
The Impossible Dream
(29 July 2013)
Arista Records, RCA Records

Peak: 1
The Christmas Album
(2 December 2013)
Arista Records, RCA Records

Peak: 24
Connie Talbot
(Series 1, finalist)
Over the Rainbow
(26 November 2007)
Rainbow Recording Company

Peak: 35
Connie Talbot's Christmas Album
(24 November 2008)
Rainbow Recording Company

Peak: 93
Holiday Magic
(20 October 2009)
AAO Music

Peak: did not chart
Beautiful World
(26 November 2012)

Peak: did not chart in the UK
(Series 2, 4th place)
(25 May 2009)
Sony BMG/Syco

Peak: 2
Jonathan and Charlotte
(Series 6, Runner-up)
(24 September 2012)

Peak: 5

Artists without BPI certified albums

Former contestant Total sales Albums
Faryl Smith
(Series 2, 5th place)

Charlie Green
(Series 2, Semi-finalist)


There are 6 pieces of related merchandise:

  • Best of The Auditions DVD (2009)
  • The Electronic Board Game (2009)
  • The Magic Set (2009)
  • Finalists of 2009: Annual 2010 (2009)
  • Be the judge buzzer (2010)


In April 2013, ITV launched a Britain's Got Talent app, available to buy on the app store. The app features the latest news from the show as well as a 'Bling Your Buzzer' feature. There are 5 buzzers to download these are:

  • Classic Red
  • The SIMON
  • The AMANDA
  • The ALESHA
  • The DAVID
  • The Hot Cross Bun (2014; Easter special)
  • The Chick (2014; Easter special)
  • The egg (2014; Easter special)
  • The Panic (introduced at start of Episode 4)
  • The Vinyl (introduced during Episode 4)


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