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  • Writer's pictureJust Simon Cowell

Simon Cowell gives an insight on what to expect from the BGT finals

Simon Cowell gives us an insight on what we can expect from the Britain's Got Talent finals this year - it will look very different!

Were you ever worried that Britain’s Got Talent might not make it back on air at all this year because of Covid? Yeah, for a moment but then I thought, ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way’. I just thought that if we can talk to each other all over the world on something like Zoom then there must be a way for us to do the live shows. I don’t want to give too much away but when you watch the semi-finals and final you’re going to see something you’ve never seen before, it’s very high tech. It’s been very stimulating putting the whole thing together.

How did you feel ahead of the audition episodes airing during what was a very scary time for everyone across the country? I remember watching the first cut of the first audition episode and thinking how perfect it was to escape from all the craziness of Covid for a moment. It was sad when we had to put the last audition show out not knowing if we would definitely get to do the remaining semi-final shows. But we are all really excited complete the series and celebrate our BGT winner!

The ratings for the audition shows were incredible... I wasn’t even thinking about the ratings at the time though, I was looking at the reaction from the audience that was coming in. That’s what was really important to me, especially during these scary times! It was incredible to know that everyone was really enjoying the shows.

The pandemic has had a catastrophic impact on the entertainment world with productions shut down around the globe for months... We’ve had to come up with all sorts of different ideas on how we’re going to do it, how it’s going to be different but ultimately the focus needs to be on the contestants.

Now the semi-finals are here, there must be lots of protocols put in place to protect everyone backstage? We’re always going to miss not having a live audience, but the safety of everyone is more important. We’re going to have to rehearse acts in a completely different way. But everyone’s been up for it, the contestants, the crew and the whole team, it’s been amazing to see everyone come together and work so hard to get Britain’s Got Talent back on air.

And the same for the judges? I think we’re going to have the longest judges’ desk in the world to make sure everyone has lots of space! That’s the plus side to come out of all this, that David has to stay far away from me for the foreseeable future!

You’ll be able to see and hear the audience watching at home

There will be no live audience for the remainder of the series, how will that impact the vibe of the show? Hopefully, from what I have seen it won’t change the vibe in the room. I don’t want to give too much away but what we are planning to do will mean it will still feel like you’ve got this tremendous energy behind us on the panel. You’ll be able to see and hear the audience watching at home, it’ll just be different. It’s going to be fascinating to be a part of this.

Which acts are you looking forward to seeing again? All of them to be honest with you. They’ve all had even more time to rehearse and they know what the stakes are. We want to change as many people’s lives for the better as we possibly can, so everyone is working hard. It took us a long time to work out who the finalists were going to be because there were just so many good people this year. But I think we’ve chosen the right people to put through. I mean, we didn’t agree on everything there were rows but everyone got to watch the auditions through again, we came back, we’d changed our minds, then we finally got to a place where we thought, ‘These are the right people to go through’ I hope the audience are going to be really happy to see who we’ve put through.

Are you looking forward to seeing your golden buzzer act again? Of course, I can’t wait to see what Fayth is going to perform! I think she’s amazing. I hope she’s used this extra time wisely. I think everyone will bring their A game for the finals. I think we have all had to, the way the production team behind the show have adapted and coped with all the changes to the show and the way they work, it’s been incredible, they are outstanding.

How are the plans looking for next year’s show? In terms of filming, there’s always a plan a, b, c and d! Whatever happens, it sounds like a cliche, but the show must go on, and it will. There’s a real determination, whatever happens, to not only make the show work again next year but make it even better than this year. That’s where everyone’s feelings are right now. It’s our job to give our viewers an hour of entertainment that they can escape into, that makes them smile and have fun.

Ashley Banjo is stepping in for Simon Cowell

After crowning him the winner back in 2009, Simon Cowell has asked Ashley Banjo to return to the show – and step in as his guest judge for the start of the upcoming Britain’s Got Talent semi-finals whilst the show’s creator recovers from a recent back operation.

Simon was forced to have emergency surgery after a bike accident in Los Angeles earlier this month and is now recovering at home – so will be unable to appear on the first semi-final, due to be filmed next week. As a result, the show’s creator has asked Ashley to temporarily take his iconic seat on the BGT judging panel.

Simon says: “Ashley will be a fantastic addition to the panel. He knows the power of the show; and the responsibility of it. I couldn’t think of a better person to sit in my seat whilst I follow doctor’s orders. I hate that stupid bike!”

How the show will work

This year’s BGT semi-finals will be very different, the inevitable result of Covid-19 and social distancing restrictions. The semi-finals, which had been due to be held in May, will now take place over five, nail-biting – and pre-recorded - episodes. The Final will then take place live in October.

As usual, Ant and Dec will host the semi-finals whilst Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams will join Ashley at the judges’ desk. Eight contestants will perform in each semi-final and the judges will choose one act to go through. The second finalist will then be chosen via public vote when the episode airs.

With safety concerns paramount, some acts will take part remotely via video link whilst others will perform in the TV studio – though without a live audience. Instead, all acts will be watched by a virtual audience – with their performances live streamed into homes across the UK and the virtual audiences’ reactions then beamed into the studio on a giant screen.

The series will then culminate with the live final, in October, where one act will triumph as Britain’s Got Talent 2020 Champion and win the life-changing £250,000 prize plus that coveted role on The Royal Variety Performance.


Britain's Got Talent returns on Saturday 8pm ITV


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