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Series / Britain's Got Talent

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Britain's Got Talent is an ITV Talent Show hosted by Ant and Dec. Contestants perform talent acts with the aim of winning a public vote and perform in front of HM the King (or another member of The British Royal Family; previously Queen Elizabeth II until her death in 2022) at the Royal Variety Performance. Each contestant performs in front of three or four judges. The judges each have a buzzer and can push them if they want the act to stop, but all buzzers must be pressed for this to happen. Additionally, from series 8 onwards, there is the Golden Buzzer, which each judge and the hosts may only press once per series if they feel that an act deserves to be sent directly to the semi-finals.

The show is tolerated primarily for the ridiculous and often hilariously bad auditions and the inevitable scathing responses.

The judges here are/were (current judges in bold):

  • Simon Cowell (2007-present); THE mean judge; sat out the auditions in the 2011 series but returned for the 2011 live shows and onwards
  • Amanda Holden (2007-present); comedy actress and model (Google Image Search will generate underwear and, er, more)
  • Piers Morgan (2007-2010); former editor of the Daily Mirror; left after the 2010 series to build his career in America
  • Kelly Brook (2009); model and actress (Google Image search is probably NSFW). She was briefly a judge for season three, but four judges was found to be impractical and she was made redundant.
  • Louis Walsh (2010-2011); one of Cowell's co-judges on The X Factor; not a regular judge on this show, but occasionally shows up when one of the other judges is ill or otherwise busy. Since series 8, his position as the substitute judge in the auditions has been taken over by Ant and Dec.
  • David Hasselhoff (2011); former America's Got Talent judge
  • Michael McIntyre (2011); stand-up comedian
  • Alesha Dixon (2012-present); singer, defected from Strictly Come Dancing
  • David Walliams (2012-2022); comedian and actor, left the series after making rude remarks about the contestants on the show during auditions.
  • Carmen Electra (2012); actress, most well known for being on Baywatch; she was a guest judge when Amanda was absent having her daughter.
  • Ashley Banjo (2020); The lead member of former BGT Champions Diversity and a judge on Dancing On Ice, Ashley stepped in as a guest judge for the live shows when Simon suffered a severe back injury.
  • Bruno Tonioli (2023-present); British-Italian TV personality, has previously judged on Strictly Come Dancing

The show also aired a spin-off, Britain's Got More Talent, after each episode of the main show on ITV2. This show was hosted by magician/presenter Stephen Mulhern and focused more on the backstage elements of the show, with a stronger emphasis on comedy.

Has a Transatlantic Equivalent in the form of America's Got Talent, which technically debuted first in 2006 due to issues with the British pilot.

This show contains examples of:

  • Ambiguously Bi: Lorna Bliss, who has also appeared on The X Factor, while dancing provocatively on the judge's panel, gives Amanda Holden a quick kiss on the lips.
  • Anticlimax: Many viewers reacted with outrage at the producers' decision not to allow dancers Michael Moral and Razy Gogonea both through to the semi-finals (initially they only put the latter through) on the grounds that their acts were too similar. Eventually, Simon Cowell intervened and personally had Moral invited back to the last semi-final to let the public decide who was the better act. When the episode aired, Moral put in a sloppy, amateurish performance that saw him finish third-bottom in the night's voting, while Gogonea's showstopping performance saw him through to the final, where he finished fourth overall.
  • Aside Glance: Stephen Mulhern does these on ''Britain's Got More Talent", mostly along the lines of "Have you ever wanted to see... (aside glance) No? Me neither." It may sound repetitive, but they are quite funny when you see his face.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In 2013, impressionist Francine Lewis performs this three times in one act
    • First time is while under the Stacey Soloman: "Rushed out to get a wooly hat, a wooly coat and a passport".
    • Second time is using Amy Childs: "I love Essex, I work in Essex, I live in Essex, It's all about Essex".
    • Third time while under Katie Price: "I will be nice to you all, the church, the honeymoon and the Divorce Lawyer".
  • Badass Adorable:
    • Nine year old Jesse-Jane McParland got all the way up to the finals with her incredible martial artists routine and her child-like charm.
    • Issy Simpsons is another nine-year-old whose schtick doesn't only consist of performing magic, but also bossing around all the judges. She even manages to scare Simon with one of her audition tricks.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Simon does not like seeing terrified puppies. And during a segment on Britain's Got More Talent, he walks away after realizing the puppy he was given was very nervous.
    • Making a death metal cover of Amanda's favourite song will leave her pissed even after the show is over.
  • Big "NO!": Stephen Mulhern shouts one at the start of a live Britain's Got More Talent. He rather shakily emerges on roller skates note  and can be heard yelling at David to stay away. Hilarity Ensues.
    • David lets one out when the other three judges press his buzzer on singer, Christian Spridon. Then Simon does one when David uses his Golden Buzzer on him.
    • Simon also lets one out when Alesha gives 100 Voices of Gospel the Golden Buzzer in 2016. Mainly because he wanted to give them the Golden Buzzer.
  • Big Fun: Stavros Flatly both of their times
  • Blatant Lies: Once Susan Boyle finishes her performance, Simon jokingly says "I knew, from the moment you walked on that stage, that we were gonna hear something extraordinary, and I was right". This was despite him minutes earlier having been clearly dismissive of Susan and looking extremely bored in the seconds before Susan started singing. Obviously, nobody believes him, and Dec remarks "what a lot of tosh!"
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Amanda invoked this during Season 14 after a daredevil unicyclist did a stunt where he rode a 30-foot tall unicycle around the studio whilst blindfolded.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: David is this: he acts like a campy, goofy idiot a good deal of the time, but when it comes to judging, he gives genuinely fair critiques to contestants and is more balanced than the harsher Simon or the nicer Amanda and Alesha.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Two acts appeared in the live shows in successive years. Series 8 competitors Lauren & Terrell returned the following year as part of the dance troupe IMD Legion. Then in the finale of Series 13, masked magician X revealed himself to be Series 12 semi-finalist Marc Spelmann
    • There have been several instances where acts have appeared on the live shows one year, then sent spin-off acts to appear in a later season. BGT icons Twist N' Pulse and Diversity would coach junior troupes who competed in the BGT live shows as well.
  • Butt-Monkey: David is often the subject of mockery from the others, especially on Britain's Got More Talent.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Two acts in the first season were put through in auditions, and then put through to the semi-finals, but mysteriously vanished from the line-up before the live shows started, replaced by two previously eliminated. Both turned out to have dubious legal dealings and were quietly kicked off the show. In fact, at no point was their departure ever mentioned on-screen, so viewers were left a bit confused.
    • Neil Horan, a former priest who infamously ruined a marathon by running out on the track (and was convicted for it), not only auditioned but passed. Needless to say, the judges had no idea who he was, and once they found out, he was removed (again, quietly) from the running for the semi-finals.
  • Child Prodigy: Issy Simpsons from Season 11 is a 9-year-old Magician whose performance holds up against all the adult magicians who have appeared on stage before her, managing to advance to the grand finals, and becoming the runner-up of the season (which is a very high standing for a magician, first achieved by Jamie Raven in 2015 and only surpassed by Richard Jones, who won the 2016 season).
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Quite a few of the contestants come across as one, such as Lorraine Bowen.
  • Confetti Drop: The show frequently uses Confetti on some performances.
    • Since the introduction of the Golden Buzzer, when it is pressed by a judge, gold confetti will blast all over the stage.
    • Played for laughs in a Britain’s Got More Talent episode from May 2019, where Stephen Mulhern randomly asks questions to Ant and Dec and then suggests that Confetti could make the answers better, which indeed happens.
  • Cool Old Guy: Colin Thackery a war veteran becomes the oldest winner on Britain's got talent and any franchise.
  • Cuteness Overload : Flakefeet Primary School on season 13 while some people argue if they had a talent or not no one argues the fact that they were a cute act.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Amanda will often squee at cute animals that are brought onstage.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The judges tend to be like this towards the ridiculous acts, especially Simon. Ant and Dec also have their moments.
  • Determinator: David J. Watson, who has auditioned for the show more times than anyone else. He first appeared in 2008, where he did political impersonation act that was hilarious for all the wrong reasons, then showed up again in 2010 where he performed a bizarre mix of The Incredible Hulk and Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. His appearance in 2011 saw him try to pull off a "magic trick" that didn't really amount to anything more than a high school science experiment. In the 2013 series, he brought back up in the form of two colleagues, one of whom seemed not very enthusiastic in being there. His act involved a small comedy sketch where David pretends to drill through a wall and into a person, who then 'comically' spins around. This was achieved by having one guy arc the top half of his body over the wall, and then the other guy waves a pair of fake legs. It was as bad as it sounds. Only David Walliams seemed amused. He then returned dressed as a Drag Queen magician's assistant named "Miss Direction"; while the magician did a basic "cut the rope and make it whole again", his sole contribution was to eat an extremely spicy chili, resulting in him wretching and sounding like he was about to vomit for the whole act. A terrible Mr. Bean impression followed the year after. His 2018 attempt consisted of him standing behind a screen and doing "impressions" of pop culture icons so poor it more closely resembled a bizarre Avant-Garde art project than any of the characters he was trying to resemble. 2020 finally saw him progress past the first round with a magician act, albeit it seemed that the other judges put him through mostly to troll Simon, and he didn't get past the second round.
  • Distracted by the Sexy:
    • Simon on a regular basis. Anytime there is a pretty woman on stage he can't stop grinning, and the cameras show him blatantly checking them out. So much so there is a video called Britain's Got Pervert...
    • Lampshaded by the other judges multiple times.
    • Are you an attractive male who is not wearing a shirt? Congratulations! You've just earned Amanda Holden's undivided attention. (If you're attractive enough, the shirt can stay on, and you'll still have her undivided attention.)
    • And then there's David Walliams, who will (often blatantly) check out anybody attractive, regardless of gender.
  • Disabled Snarker: Season 12 winner Lee Ridley with cerebral paralysis and runner up Robert White with Aspergers both apply to this.
  • Do Not Try This at Home: Like the American counterpart, there are disclaimers whenever there's a dangerous act being performed. Subverted in David J. Watson's 2011 audition where he states that his trick IS safe to try at home.
  • Drag Queen:
    • Simon Cowell half-jokingly asked auditionee Tracy Lee Collins to come back in a dress. He did, and the results were pretty awesome, actually.
    • In 2016 Danny Beard sported Fake Boobs, whiteface make-up and gold glitter in his beard. He then belted out a killer rendition of "Sweet Transvestite".
  • Epic Fail:
    • James Boyd's act was to try to beat the world record for the number of Ferrero Rocher chocolates eaten in one minute. The record was seven, and he managed... four. To make it an even more spectacular failure, Ant tried the same act backstage and beat him by eating five in the same amount of time.
    • Boyd returned one year later to attempt the world record for most After Eight mints eaten without using his hands. The record was eight, and after seven months of practice, he managed... five. Mostly because he didn't prepare all of his mints beforehand. As his time was running out, Boyd began using his hands. That's right, Boyd cheated and still failed. Ant tried his hand again, and actually tied the record of eight!
  • The Faceless:
    • 2016 gave us Boogie Storm, a group of six dancers wearing Stormtrooper helmets and armor that completely obscure their faces. They also never speak during their audition, so the judges couldn't even confirm genders.
    • This trope is invoked again by the anonymous magician "X" during Series 13, though he does unmask himself in his Final Performance.
  • Fangirl: If you're an attractive young man without a shirt on, expect a yes from Amanda.
    • Lampshaded by Ant & Dec with the martial arts duo Strike from season 2, who mentioned that Strike had, among other things, "...a judge who fancies the pants off them." Actually, come to think of it, Amanda's fangirling over Strike was lampshaded by just about everybody.
    • One male act in the 2010 series actually stripped off completely naked, and Amanda's reaction was precisely as enthusiastic as you'd expect. Despite the act in question having probably his best ever chance of getting through to the semi-finals, with Louis Walsh standing in for Simon, he wasn't voted through.
  • Fan Disservice: A couple of times, a few auditionees may strip off various amounts of clothing, with varying levels of attractiveness. For one example, a middle-aged man tried to perform a strip act with a chicken codpiece on. Suffice to say, he was buzzed off in short order.
  • Flat "Yes": Happens when Simon disagrees with putting Mamma Trish (a goofy, heavyset drag queen with an... interesting routine) through; he votes no, but is vetoed by Piers and Amanda, which leads to this exchange later:
    Simon: Did you even see what he was doing?
    Amanda and Piers: (in unison) Yes.
  • Funny Background Event: This moment from a semi-final in 2015. Keep your eye on the table in the background.
  • Funny Foreigner: High-Vis Wearing Norwegian comedian Viggo Venn and "Naked Poses" performer Tonikaku were the two most successful examples, with the former WINNING Season 16 and the latter making the grand final that year.
  • Gasshole: Season 3 had an act, Mr. Methane, who farted the Blue Danube.
    • Ichikawa Koikuchi fired darts from his backside in the Season 16 auditions. The judges put him through to the live-shows, but when he did a musical flatulence performance similar to Mr Methane, he got 4 X's.
  • Hopeless Auditionees: In between the good acts, you'll get these.
  • Inept Talent Show Contestant: Half the fun of the show to some people is watching these.
  • Instant Web Hit: Susan Boyle found fame when the YouTube video of her performance racked up 100 million views in just nine days.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Simon and Piers are both caustic critics, but Simon tends to be nicer to younger contestants, while Piers sometimes gives otherwise hopeless acts a chance to continue before pressing his buzzer.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: One pun earned an impressionist the rare honour of being buzzed off before even being allowed to perform his act. He nonchalantly walked out onto the stage wearing a custard doughnut on his head, and when Piers questioned what it was doing there, the contestant replied "I've just been to the hairdressers, and I've got my hair in a bun." The judges showed their appreciation of this joke by all hitting their buzzers at once, and the hapless contestant left without having done a single impression.
  • The Load: The cats in Catalyst's performance, which didn't make any meaningful contributions to the performance, and were seemingly incorporated just to give the audience something to gush over. Even if strictly intended as "props" — as Catalyst referred to them as — they still hindered the performance with their erratic behavior: one of them delayed the performance by running backstage, and afterward nearly got crushed by Catalyst when it moved over into her seat. Given that these were ordinary pets with no special training, it was clear that the onus was on the owner's poor judgment for bringing her pets in a situation where they didn't belong.
  • Manipulative Editing: A specific example: Part of the reason the Susan Boyle story was such a runaway success was the brilliant editing of the clip that introduced her. For the first two minutes, she is set up as a classic Hopeless Auditionee: they seem to find the most unflattering shots of her (the very first one we see is her biting into a sandwich); the background music is a slow, lumbering oom-pah-pah melody; she herself seems rather... quirky ("And that's just one side of me!", followed by a shimmy), if not quite as deluded as most Hopeless Auditionees. If anything, the viewer would feel pity for this poor old woman who is about to embarrass herself on national television. And then, of course, she sings. Re-watching the audition (as many, many people did) gives the opening an entirely different tone: Boyle's unusual self-confidence is now perfectly understandable, and her quirks therefore seem more endearing. But it's clear that the editing is actually setting her up as the underdog: note the very large number of cynical reaction shots, and the way the goofy music suddenly disappears when Susan delivers her most heartfelt line: "I've always wanted to perform in front of a large audience". Needless to say, it all worked like a charm, and it became one of the biggest pop culture stories of 2009.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Amanda Holden is often complimented on her beauty.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: On the side of the contestants in the defense of their usually poor acts. In a meta sense, the need to play Lux Aeterna or some derivative of otherwise epic music at EVERY POSSIBLE OPPORTUNITY!
  • Naked People Are Funny: Tonikaku's performance has him posing naked in various scenarios, and then reassuring the audience, "Don't worry, I'm wearing... PANTS!note "
  • Navel-Deep Neckline: Amanda Holden wore several costumes with revealing necklines that exposed her cleavage and stomach. According to a tabloid interview, Amanda Holden was trying deliberately to provoke the UK's Moral Guardians with some of her costume choices. The complaints to the official TV watchdogs were rejected.
  • Non Sequitur: Elaine Williams' entire comedy routine consisted of spewing out what seems to be a random sequence of words; one "joke" consisted solely of saying the tagline for Dove shampoo (It Makes Just As Much Sense In Context, by the way) before bringing up Peter Kay and saying "Garlic bread" in reference to his famous joke. Essentially, it was the equivalent of just mentioning somebody funnier and stealing a punchline, sans any relevant context or set up.
  • Odd Couple: Simon Cowell and David Walliams, starting in 2012.
  • Refuge in Audacity: In the "Interval Pub Games" sketch in Britain's Got More Talent (2012), the winner in the pub game between Ant and Dec becomes the "Top Ranker". Now, understanding what other word ranker sounds like, everyone proceeds to repeatedly chant "Ranker!" at the winner.
    • Now in the most recent series, "Fairground Fantasy" (2013), the title is changed to the "masterater". It becomes especially fitting in the semi-finals which involves celebrity guests milking a prop cow competing to get the most milk out of it, an alternate title being "Massive Yanker."
  • Precision F-Strike: The live shows dealt with this on some occasions which has gotten the family-oriented show complaints to Ofcom. But as the show itself has shown, not everyone is perfect.
    • Amanda Holden automatically reacted to the Haunting's performance with an intended “Fuck” out of fright during the 2019 Semi-Finals.
    • During a 2023 episode, when he and the other judges were made to take apart in an act, you could faintly hear Bruno Tonioli saying “Fucking hell Simon, not again” to Cowell in regards to it. Although it could barely be heard, it still caused complaints and it wasn’t until the next episode that an apology was offered, which shows that even the production team couldn’t hear it.
  • The Runner-Up Takes It All: Susan Boyle has a multi-platinum album, and everybody just assumes she won Series 3 thanks to Memetic Mutation, but...
    • Having said that, Diversity, the actual winners of that series have still had one of the best careers out of any BGT finalist to date. It is probably safe to say that had the runner-up of that series been anyone except Boyle, this trope wouldn't have applied.
    • Probably the most notable example of this trope occurred in Series 9. Dog act Jules and Matisse won the series, but were embroiled in controversy over the use of a second dog as a stunt double, leading to them becoming one of the least successful BGT winners. Meanwhile, 5th Place Calumm Scott (the favourite until he forgot his words in the final) had a big hit with his audition cover of "Dancing On My Own". Scott could not really shake off his one hit-wonder status (Although "You Are The Reason", his duet with Leona Lewis, is still heavily used on BGT) but it's safe to say that he did a lot better.
      • Ultimately though, the most successful act from Series 9 was Sheku Kanneh-Mason, a cellist who competed as part of a classical music group with his family. Though the Kanneh-Masons did not reach the final, Sheku was crowned BBC Young Musician of the year in 2016, and performed at the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. He has also released two successful albums.
    • This trope is invoked again during the Series 13 Final. Despite 89-year old singer Colin Thackery taking the crown, the runner-up, the anonymous magician X's who had unmasked himself to reveal Series 12 semi-finalist Marc Spelmann performance became a high-trending topic on Twitter.
  • Secret Identity: X from series 13. This mysterious magician kept his true identity a secret until the end of his final performance, when he revealed himself... he was actually series 12 semi-finalist Marc Spelmann.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Frequently invoked by the judges, particularly with regard to dance groups. Even otherwise competent acts can get buzzed off near-instantly if they're regarded to be too similar to a previously successful act.
  • Self-Deprecation: Constantly used on Britain's Got More Talent.
  • She Is All Grown Up: Connie Talbot, who was a six year old contestant in series 1, when she appeared on Britain's Got Talent: The Champions. It's now more than 12 years later, so the cute kid has become a pretty young woman - which the judges do comment on.
  • So Unfunny, It's Funny:
    • Donald Camber's act consisted of him half-mumbling and laughing his way through an overly-long and agonizingly atrocious joke: The Hunchback of Notre Dame (or, according to him, Amsterdam) goes out for a walk and returns to his flat to find a man waiting there, who asks the Hunchback to teach him to ring the bells of Notre Dame. Quasimodo does a demonstration and pushes the bell over to the trainee, but it hits him in the face and knocks him out the window. A passerby finds him and says to Quasi, "There's a man down here, do you recognize him?" Quasimodo responds with, "No, but that face certainly rings a bell." Cue three X's from the judges. Donald's upbeat attitude and constant barely-concealed laughter kept everybody smiling regardless.
    • Mary Sumah barely made it past the punchline of her first joke before being decisively buzzed off the stage by all three judges. The actual joke wasn't funny: she asks the ladies "Are you all alright?", and when they reply, she goes, "No, you are all all left.") However, the entire act was structured like a joke: her introduction - where she revealed that she spent $200 on comedy school - provided a setup for the horrible punchline, which was then followed by a Beat from the auditorium before the Stunned Silence was broken by the actual "punchline" delivered by the judges' reactions. The act turned out to be hilarious, just not in the way Mary likely intended.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The 2013 finale had an impressive performance by singers Richard & Adam be interrupted by violinist Natalie Holt throwing eggs at Simon Cowell while they were still singing.
  • Stage Magician: Initially, magicians did especially badly on BGT. However, things started to change from Series 5 onwards and in 2016 (Series 10), Richard Jones the first magician to win the show. Since then, magicians have done especially well on the show, with 4 magic acts making the final in 2019 and 5 making the final in 2020.
  • Talking Animal: In 2015, Marc Metral brought along his singing dog, Miss Wendy. Though it was actually a Ventriloquist act where Miss Wendy was wearing a mask used to make it look like she was talking.
  • Too Qualified to Apply: This is often invoked when international acts or performers with substantial professional experience compete on the show.
    • 12-year-old musical singer Beau Dermott was accused of "cheating" in newspapers when it was revealed that she had been professionally coached in singing and won multiple Talent Shows before. BGT has no rules banning either of these.
    • 2022 competitor Loren Allred (who provided the singing voice for Jenny Lind in The Greatest Showman) received particular online hostility for her previous experience and success.
    • Season 15 in general was heavily affected by complaints over acts having too much professional experience, with winner Axel Blake receiving considerable hostility for having a stand-up show released on Amazon Prime in 2018.
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: America's Got Talent.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Want to hear a Death Metal cover of "Let it Go"? Amanda sure didn't.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: After chanting, "OFF! OFF! OFF!" for the entirety of one (very bad) act, the audience booed loudly at Simon Cowell when he gave a damning review of the act. He turned to them and pointed out their blatant hypocrisy.
    • The judges (excluding Simon, obviously) have had these moments, as well. A notable example happened during Mike Henderson's audition. Henderson's act was balancing upside down on sword handles while picking up a knife with his teeth. Piers buzzed while Henderson was inches above the blade. Seconds after the buzz, it appeared to many like Henderson was about to fall onto the blade, however it was part of his act. Amanda shrieked, left her seat and turned towards the audience, unable to watch. Once the act was over, she quickly confronted Piers, calling him irresponsible. Simon remarked to Henderson, "I think Piers nearly killed you." Kelly asked Piers if he did it on purpose, and he replied that he "couldn't even see the sword near [his] mouth" and then apologized to Henderson.


Video Example(s):


Simon Gets a Big Hug

Even the infamous music critic Simon Cowell can't resist the Teletubies.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / GroupHug

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