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Simon Cowell interview on this year's Britain's Got Talent

Simon Cowell at a Britain's Got Talent audition
Simon Cowell at a BGT audition

Britain's Got Talent talks about this year's Britain's Got Talent in a new interview.

Read the interview in FULL with pictures.

When you’re heading into a new series of Britain’s Got Talent what are you hoping for? I’m hoping for good people, you want to be surprised and you don’t want a bad version of what you’ve seen before. That, for me, is the most important thing. You always want to be surprised on this show. The surprise aspect, going back to Paul Potts and Susan Boyle, I just didn’t expect them to be that good and they were amazing. That’s what this show is about.

How much of a pain in the neck is David now he’s won Best Judge at the National TV Awards twice? This may sound like sour grapes, but I’m going to say it...he canvasses all year long! I found him once sending out tweets begging and pleading, I’ve never done that before, maybe I should. He’s not the most popular judge, he just isn’t!

Has it been a double whammy of pain for you seeing as he’s also been awarded an OBE? Urgh! Being around everyone, you’ve got Ant and Dec and now David. I know what’s coming next - it’ll be Alesha and Amanda. I will literally be the only person without anything. I can see this one coming. It’s annoying, it really is, and they don’t let it go!

Group hug with the Britain's Got Talent judges
Group hug with the BGT judges

When the cameras are not rolling, are you all still good friends?

It’s interesting because this year, including myself, you kind of go, ‘This is a fun show to be on’ and what’s important is that it actually makes you feel good at the end of the day. There’s something about a day filming, you really feel good after. So I suppose what I am saying is we all got that this year, we could feel it. We all get on well, we’re very lucky.

It’s a big year for the royals with a new baby and a wedding coming up. What do you think about Princes William and Harry?

I’ve met Prince Harry a couple of times and I have to say I think he’s one of the most down to earth, nice, decent people you’ll ever meet. He was very relaxing to be with, he was very enthusiastic about the show. The same with Prince William, I met him at the Royal Variety Performance and I thought he was really charming. They are the next generation of the royals and I think we’re lucky, they are really nice people. And the people they have married, or Prince Harry is to marry, are amazing.

They’ve both got a good sense of humour so when you’re doing the auditions do you have them in mind? I’ll be honest with you, having the royal connection makes the show unique. I think that’s a really good thing and sometimes it puts it into context, good and bad. You might be watching the worst act in the world going, ‘We don’t want to put that lot on the Royal Variety!’. For me, you hope most importantly that by doing well on the show you can change someone’s life. That’s why most people come on the show. Whether there’s a door that’s been slammed in their face or whatever it might be, there’s a reason they come on. To see the difference it makes to peoples lives, it’s quite incredible! Just look at Susan Boyle and what a success story she has been! One guy comes back every year, gets a no but still comes back again!

Simon Cowell holding an umbrella at the Britain's Got Talent auditions
Raining in the studio Simon?

How do you rate the talent this year?

I don’t like jinxing it because every single time on a show like this you ask what the talent is like and they’re like, ‘We’ve got the best talent in the world’, then they didn’t. We have real potential this year, I will say that. But it’s not their first audition, it’s what they do in their second audition that counts. It’s not just the talent, it’s them as people which makes a big difference. I could name a couple of people but I won’t, it’s not fair on the others. I’ve got a very good feeling that when these audition shows air quite a lot of things are going to happen quite quickly, I do believe that.

In what way?

Well, like with Susan Boyle and how her clip was shared around the world and stuff like that. You are going to see some stories which will make you go, ‘Woah!’. There’s some viral moments, for sure.

Simon Cowell tied up with toilet paper at a Britain's Got Talent audition
A bit tied up Simon Cowell?

You pressed your golden buzzer for a father and son act, what was it about them that got you in the moment? People have asked me if I have changed since I have had Eric and of course you do, you can’t help it. In a very positive way you start, particularly now he’s four, looking at the world through his eyes as well, which is fun because we get to watch great movies together! But there was this kid and I was thinking, ‘God, that literally could be Eric’. It wouldn’t be me as the dad, but it could be Eric. There was something about this boy, he sang with his dad and I thought the song they wrote was really cool. I caught a glimpse of Ant and Dec ready to run down and push the golden buzzer, and I thought, ‘No way! This one is mine!’. You have to watch this act, I think they are really great people, it’s unusual to see a dad and his son, but it worked.

When it comes to the golden buzzer you are the most successful judge... I am because I am the best and David is the worst! He’s got an abysmal track record. Literally, abysmal. I don’t even know why we give him a golden buzzer. Maybe I should take it off him and give it to Stephen, or give him a bronze one.

How can the other judges beat you?

You know what? Sometimes these things are just in the moment. You do get caught up in the moment, I’m not going to lie. You can get emotional or excited and press your buzzer. There have been times when you look back, not so much me, but the others and must have gone, ‘What was I thinking?’.

You caused crockery carnage with the other judges during one act, what happened? I think that was the end of the long day, and at the end of a long day I wouldn’t suggest putting anything that could be thrown on stage in front of us! The act started it, to be fair. But there was a fire on stage, mugs and plates were being thrown and in the middle of it all this poor guy is playing an instrument - it was brilliant! It was funny, you do get a bit giddy at the end of a long day filming.

Simon Cowell and the Britain's Got Talent judges on a private jet
Fun on a private jet with the BGT judges

One moment that is almost bigger than the show is when Hollie, a victim of the Manchester bombing, auditioned. How did you feel see ing her on stage with her friends? God only knows how she dealt with that at her age, the affect it must still have. The fact that she got together with a bunch of friends and did something, more than just an act, it was a statement. It showed that the cowards can’t win and that she overcame it. I thought it was respectful, it was one of those moments I will never, ever forget. To come back in front of a theatre, and think about that for a moment after everything she’s been through - and in Manchester - you just have to go, ‘Respect’. I saw the friendship and their bond. I was so happy that they trusted us enough to come on our show. It was a good thing.

There are loads of great magicians this year, are you pleased with that? Yeah, magic is becoming big again. It’s moved on. But magic is like singing, it’s not just about the magic, it’s about the person who performs it. You can have a great voice but if you have no charisma then you have no shot. That’s what we’re starting to see with magic, it’s got to be all things combined.

Why do you believe in magic so much?

Because I do! There are certain things you hear about today which 100 years ago you would have said, ‘Ye are a witch!’. So, why not?!

The contestants are all looking for success, something you’ve had plenty of, but has the success you’ve achieved lived up to your expectation? It has actually because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I was a kid. I wasn’t very good at school, I wasn’t crazy about rules. Ironically, I was turned down by the company who are my partners now, FremantleMedia. I applied to be in the mail room with them and they turned me down flat! The same in the film business, I was going to be a runner on Stanley Kubrick’s film, but no, he doesn’t employ runners. So I ended up in the music business and now I have a TV and Music company. The great thing about it is, and this is true, I said it the other day when we were in a screening and I pinched myself. I went, ‘I’m sitting in a screening room with people I like working with, watching something we’ve made’. You can’t take that for granted. It’s a fantastic job and you don’t have to have a horrible boss! I always had the fear that I would have the most boring boss in the world who would play golf and I would have to go round to his house with his wife and talk about golf over dinner. I promised myself that would never happen, and it hasn’t. Oh, actually it did happen once and I walked out after 20 minutes because I couldn’t put up with it! So, yeah, everyone wants to be more successful but not to the point where you start believing your own hype. You don’t want to over stretch yourself. If you can make something which is popular and people like, it’s the best feeling in the world.

You were asking some very random questions of the contestants this year so let’s throw some of them at you... What would your superpower be? I want to be able to fly, definitely. I’d just fly around for the day, go everywhere, I’d love that. Add in super strength as well, why not, that would be cool.

So basically you want to be Superman?!

Yes! I want to be Superman! I’ve always wanted to be Superman!

Simon Cowell with fans at a Britain's Got Talent audition
Simon Cowell with fans at a BGT audition

What’s the pinnacle of your career or have you already reached it? I hope not! There’s always a pinnacle for different reasons, I can’t say it’s one artist or one record, or one moment. It’s everything combined. One of the worst feelings is that you’ve had your pinnacle. Maybe I have, maybe I haven’t. I don’t know. But you always have to strive for something new. It goes back to my surprise element about BGT, you want something we haven’t seen before that becomes a moment, or an artist who becomes super successful. Who knows? But I am always confident something else will happen.

Looking ahead to the live shows, why have you moved them to Hammersmith Apollo? It has to be in a theatre and I’ll tell you why. We go into a studio and make it look like a theatre, it’s like buying a Mini and trying to make it look like a Rolls Royce! There’s something about the theatre element. So whenever we do the live shows in a studio, something, that gloss, glow, whatever you want to call it, is missing for me. So I’m thrilled because this year I have got my own way...again.

Last year Amanda caused controversy with her outfits, are you hoping she might do the same this year? The good thing about Amanda when she does the live shows is she’s always thinking about the contestants and not her! Look, do I care? No! It’s easy for me because when I walk into my wardrobe everything is identical so I don’t worry about it. If I’m being honest with you I couldn’t see what all the fuss was about!

Finally, what’s the one thing you are most looking forward to about the live shows? I want unpredictability and people stepping up their game, and I think being in a different venue this year is exciting.


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