How Britain's Got Talent's best-loved acts are set to compete with international stars for the chance to win the ultimate title…
Since 2007, Britain's Got Talent has discovered many of today’s best-loved stars. And, from this week, a host of fan favourites will be returning to the very stage that made them famous in Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions.
The spin-off of the popular talent show, pre-recorded at London’s Wembley Arena, sees winners and finalists from the past 13 series of BGT go head-to-head with the best Got Talent acts from around the world in a bid to be crowned the ultimate champion.
Returning to the stage will be unforgettable acts such as Stavros Flatley and Twist & Pulse, alongside past winners including dancer George Sampson, magician Richard Jones, singing quartet Collabro, last year’s winner Colin Thackery and the show’s very first winner, opera singer Paul Potts.
"Paul Potts's audition has had millions of hits online, it’s insane," says host Dec. "We all turned up in that theatre in Birmingham in 2007 not really knowing what we were doing, if anybody was going to turn up or if there was even any talent out there. Now 13 years on, look at the acts we've launched and who’ve gone onto greater things. There’s a real sense of pride in what our tiny little island full of eccentrics has achieved."
"It's quite a celebratory show but it's still a competition," adds Ant. "These acts still want to do well – they all want to be the champion of champions!"
In a change from the usual audition format, each pre-recorded show will see two acts make it through to the grand final. The first is a Golden Buzzer act chosen by one of the judges – Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams – or hosts Ant and Dec, while the second act will be voted through by superfans in the arena audience.
Here Britain's Got Talent judge Alesha, 40, gives us the lowdown on what’s to come including which former favourites we should keep our eye on…
Why is now the right time for a show like BGT: The Champions?
"My answer to that would be, why not? Britain’s Got Talent has been going for a long time now and there are so many acts that have come and gone, who’ve all been on different journeys and who’ve had varying degrees of success since and I think the public are interested in that. Many of these acts feel like coming back on the show is like coming home. It’s almost like saying thank you to Britain’s Got Talent for giving them that platform and opening so many doors for them. So I think now is just a great time to celebrate that."
Does Britain's Got Talent: The Champions feel bigger than the regular series?
"Filming at Wembley was epic and felt very fitting for the champions, like we’d gone up another level. It does feel like everything is on a much bigger scale. This show really is a celebration of all talent from around the world and almost feels, dare I say it, like Eurovision!"
What’s the dynamic been like on the judging panel? Has it really felt like a different show for you all?
"The funniest thing about filming this series is that, weather-wise, it’s been so warm – usually when the four of us are together in January and February filming BGT, we’re all freezing cold and moaning about the rain. But this time we’ve been filming in 39-degree heat and literally sweltering. So coming back together at this time of the year did feel quite surreal but it’s always familiar, comfortable and fun and we just pick up where we left off."
What past BGT favourites can we expect to see?
"Past winners returning include opera singer Paul Potts, Ashleigh and her dog Sully, singing quartet Collabro, magician Richard Jones and last year’s winner, singing Chelsea pensioner Colin Thackery and they’ll all be mixed in with acts from America, Asia, Russia and Europe. It must have been quite a hard task for the producers because there have been so many …Got Talent champions over the last 13 years, so there’s a big pool of people to choose from. We want the final to reflect the best of the best."
Do you have higher expectations of these returning acts because you already know what they can do?
"Absolutely! They have to up their game. There is a lot of pressure on them but I think that just makes for a more exciting show. Yes, they’re all extremely nervous but we want them to care, to do a great job and represent the …Got Talent brand globally."
Keep your eye on these former favourites...
PAUL POTTS (Winner of series one, 2007) "Someone like Paul Potts really is the heart and soul of Britain’s Got Talent. He’s one of those acts that leave a lasting impression on you not just because of their talent but because there’s something about them and their story that captivates you. Paul’s just a really normal, lovely guy, whose life suddenly changed. His win on BGT was a real fairytale moment."
CONNIE TALBOT (finalist of series one, 2007) "Connie was just six years old when she first appeared on BGT. A lot of people remember that young girl and that audition. David and I weren’t judges on the show back then, so to see Connie come back as an 18-year-old and hear her story and see the journey she’s been on as an artist, was fascinating."
ASHLEIGH AND SULLY (Winner of series six, 2012) "Ashleigh won over the hearts of the nation with her dog Pudsey, who sadly died in 2017, which was devastating for her and everyone who fell in love with Pudsey. To see Ashleigh come out on BGT: The Champions and perform with Sully, I felt quite emotional for her."
STAVROS FLATLEY (finalist of series three, 2009) "I love those acts that come from a really normal background, they have that humility about them but they also have that drive within them and that fearlessness to try something different. People really connect with them and relate to them, their story and their humble beginnings."
Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions starts on Saturday August 31 at 8pm on ITV.
With over 20 years’ experience writing about TV and film, Vicky currently writes features for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week magazines plus news and watching guides for WhatToWatch.com, a job which involves chatting to a whole host of famous faces. Our Vicky LOVES light entertainment, with Strictly Come Dancing, Britain’s Got Talent and The Voice UK among her fave shows. Basically, if it’s got a shiny floor, she’s all over it! When she’s not watching TV, you might find Vicky in therapy… retail therapy that is!
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