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Britain's Got Talent

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Created by
Voices of
Original language(s)

Theme song
Lux Aeterna


Directed by
Jonathan Bullen

Country of origin
United Kingdom

Presented by
Britain's Got Talent httpsyt3ggphtcomQIVF0Bs4QQoAAAAAAAAAAIAAA

Executive producers
Amelia Brown, Lee McNicholas

National Television Award for Most Popular Talent Show

Program creators
Simon Cowell, Ken Warwick, Jason Raff, Cécile Frot-Coutaz

The X Factor (UK), America's Got Talent, The X Factor (US), The Voice UK, Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Tak


Britain s got talent auditions full episode series 1 episode 1

Britain's Got Talent (often shortened to BGT) is a British television talent show reality TV competition which started in June 2007 and originated from the Got Talent franchise. The show is a Thames production (formerly Talkback Thames) distributed by FremantleMedia and is produced in association with Syco TV. The show is broadcast on ITV and its sister show Britain's Got More Talent is broadcast on ITV2. Anyone of any age with some sort of talent can audition for the show. Acts compete against each other in order to gain the audience support while trying to win the title of "The winner of Britain's Got Talent''. The original judging panel consisted of the show's creator Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and Piers Morgan. Kelly Brook was brought in briefly as a fourth judge in series 3, but was axed after one audition site. Morgan did not return for 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 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.

There have been ten winners to date: Paul Potts (opera singer), George Sampson (street dancer), Diversity (street dance troupe), Spelbound (gymnastic troupe), Jai McDowall (singer), Ashleigh and Pudsey (dancing dog act), Attraction (shadow theatre group), Collabro (musical singing group), Jules O'Dwyer & Matisse (canine freestyle act) and Richard Jones (magician). 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 either Queen Elizabeth II or the Prince of Wales, and also receives a cash prize of £250,000 (£100,000 in series 1–5, £500,000 in series 6).

A significant show in British popular culture, Britain's Got Talent is the UK's biggest television talent competition (ahead of The X Factor, also created by Cowell, and The Voice UK). The series 3 live final brought in 17.3 million viewers, a 64.6% audience share. On 29 February 2016, it was announced that ITV had signed a three-year contract to renew Britain's Got Talent until 2019.


The show's format was devised by The X Factor creator and Sony Music executive Simon Cowell, who has created many Got Talent series across the globe. A pilot episode was filmed in September 2005, with the judging panel consisting of Cowell, then-This Morning presenter Fern Britton, and tabloid journalist Piers Morgan. It was originally planned that the show would be broadcast in 2006 and presented by Paul O'Grady (who had become popular thanks to his teatime chat show, The Paul O'Grady Show) with the title Paul O'Grady's Got Talent. However, after defection to Channel 4 for The Paul O'Grady Show, he refused to appear on another ITV show, so the show was put on hold. The pilot remained unbroadcast on television until it was shown during The Talent Show Story in January 2012. In a 2010 interview, O'Grady said, "I did the pilot for Britain's Got Talent – which was originally going to be called Paul O'Grady's Got Talent. But I told the producers they were having a joke if they thought I would front a show with that title. The original panel of judges was going to be Simon Cowell, Fern Britton and Piers Morgan. I was the host. Then when I had the row with ITV I was banned from the studios. I remember I rang Simon and told him he had a huge hit on his hands, but there was no way I could do it. I said, if I am banned I have to be banned from everything. I can’t be a hypocrite and come in and do this. I had to bow out."

On 12 February 2007, following the success of America's Got Talent the previous year, it was announced that the show would air in June 2007 with Cowell, Morgan (who had also judged America's Got Talent) and actress 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. 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. If all the judges press their buzzers, the act ends immediately and they are disqualified. There have been instances of judges pressing other judges' buzzers.

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.

Judges Decisions

Also known as Deliberation Day. After the auditions, the judges have to whittle the successful acts down to the semi-finalists. Series 1 had 24 semi-finalists, which increased to 40 semi-finalists for the next four series, and to 45 semi-finalists since series 6. 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 as the judges were having difficulty coming to a final decision on whom to send through to the semi-finals. 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 the first series, the semi-finals aired from Thursday till Saturday, with the final on Sunday. In the second, fourth and fifth series, the semi-finals started on the Monday after the final auditions. The final aired on Saturday, the day after the last semi final. In the third series, the live shows began on a Sunday with a break on Wednesday and finals on Saturday. A similar format was used for series six and ten, except the break was on Friday. In the seventh series, the live shows began on a Monday with a break on Wednesday. The last semi-final aired on the Saturday with the final the following Saturday. This format continued for series eight but the break was on Friday. In series nine, the semi-finals aired from Monday to Friday. There was no show on Saturday and the final aired on Sunday.


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. In series 9, a second wildcard was added. In addition to the judges' wildcard, the public will vote on the acts eliminated in the top three to send one to the finals. The public's wildcard pick was Jesse-Jane McParland and the judges selected Boyband. In series 10, the public wildcard was Trip Hazard and the judges' wildcard was Shannon & Peter.

Series overview

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


Series 1 (2007)

The first series of Britain's Got Talent began on 9 June 2007 and ended on 17 June. The judges were Piers Morgan, 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 George Sampson, with dual dance group 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. 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 but was fired after just six days, having acted as a judge at the Manchester auditions only. 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. The first programme of series 4 was broadcast on 17 April 2010. 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. 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, Piers Morgan left the show due to him hosting his new show Piers Morgan Tonight in America. Cowell was only present for the live shows only as during the auditions he was busy launching The X Factor USA. Amanda Holden returned to the regular judging panel, joined by David Hasselhoff and Michael McIntyre. Louis Walsh also appeared as a guest judge in the London auditions whilst Hasselhoff was appearing in pantomime. 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. 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. In December 2011, it was announced that Cowell would be returning as a full-time judge for the series. On 2 January, David Walliams and Alesha Dixon were confirmed as judges, with Dixon leaving her role on Strictly Come Dancing. Holden missed some of the auditions due to her pregnancy and due to being critically ill after giving birth. 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. 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. 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. On 31 October 2014, Holden confirmed that she, Cowell, Dixon and Walliams would return as judges. The new series started airing on 11 April 2015. This is the first ever series to have free voting via the app. Jesse-Jane McParland and Boyband were brought back to the final as wildcards. The winner of the series was Jules O'Dwyer and her dog Matisse, with Jamie Raven taking second and Cor Glanaethwy finishing third.

Series 10 (2016)

At the conclusion of the ninth series, it was announced that the show would return for a tenth series. On 16 March 2015, Walliams confirmed he would return for his fifth series. On 7 April, Holden also confirmed her return to the show. On 25 June, Mulhern announced he will also return to host Britain's Got More Talent. On 27 September 2015, all four judges signed for the tenth series, meaning Walliams and Dixon both return for their fifth series on the panel, while Holden and Cowell both return for their tenth series. Ant and Dec will also be back to host the main show and Mulhern will return to host the spin-off show. The series was won by magician Richard Jones.

Golden buzzer

Series 8 saw the introduction of the new golden buzzer. During the auditions, as well as the standard buzzers, there was a golden buzzer placed in the centre of the judges' desk. Each judge was allowed to press this buzzer only once, and it would send that auditionee straight through to the live semi-finals regardless of the opinions of the other three judges. Ant & Dec were given the opportunity to press the golden buzzer as well. The golden buzzer has previously been used on Germany's Got Talent.

   – Reached final   – Reached top 3


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

  • Presenters gallery
  • Judges

    The first two series consisted of original judges, music executive and television producer Simon Cowell, television and West End star Amanda Holden, and newspaper editor and journalist Piers Morgan. As series 3 started, it was announced that the show would have a fourth judge, actress and glamour model Kelly Brook. However, after less than a week of filming, it was announced that Brook had been dropped as the producers believed that the format would be "too complicated" with four judges; Brook was later credited as a guest judge. Series 4 would remain with just Cowell, Holden and Morgan as judges. Cowell fell ill at one point and was unable to attend the Birmingham auditions, so fellow The X Factor judge Louis Walsh stepped in for him.

    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. It was revealed that comedian Michael McIntyre would be completing the judging panel, as would actor, singer and former America's Got Talent judge David Hasselhoff. 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. On 2 January 2012, it was announced that Alesha Dixon and David Walliams would replace McIntyre and Hasselhoff for the sixth series. 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. All four judges returned for series 9 and 10. All the judges have announced their return for Series 11. Cowell, Holden and Dixon said they were going to be back. On 17 January, ahead of auditions, Dixon confirmed Walliams and Ant and Dec would be returning via Instagram.

  • Judges gallery
  • Britain's Got More Talent

    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.

    Format and features

    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. This format changed in series 9, with the shows airing in the week before the show started. An episode was aired after the series though. In 2016, the format changed again, with the episodes airing the weekends before the show started. No episode aired after the series.

    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 Royal Television Society Programme Award for its technical achievements. It has also won four Nickelodeon UK Kids' Choice Awards from five nominations. In 2009, it won its first ever Digital Spy Reality Award for George Sampson for 'Favourite Reality Contestant'. The show was further nominated in the 'Reality Show' category, but lost out to 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.

    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?"

    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.

    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" and "it's a churn 'em out fast food form of putrid shit that I have no affiliation with".

    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."

    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.

    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.

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

    Best-selling albums

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


    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)
  • Finalists of 2009: Annual 2011 (2010)
  • BGT App

    Since 2010, a Britain's Got Talent app has been available on the app store. The app features the latest news from the show as well as a 'Bling Your Buzzer' feature. In 2015, free in-app voting was introduced. This means viewers are able to vote free of charge for five acts of their choice per voting window during the semi-finals and final rounds.


    Britain's Got Talent Wikipedia