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Saturday, 13 April 2013

Britain's Got Talent 2013: What to expect from Episode One and Highlights from the Press Event


Last year Britain's Got Talent's finale was the most watched entertainment show of 2013. Tens of millions of us tuned in to see Ashleigh and Pudsey become the first ever dog act to win the show. Now back for a seventh series, the show welcomes back judges Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams who all proved to be a hit last time around. On Thursday I was lucky enough to go to a screening of the first episode followed by a quick interview with all the judges bar Walliams.

The first episode started with a large flash mob style scene where former acts, including Ashleigh and Pudsey and Stavros Flatley, appeared around one surprised woman. After this we have the now obligatory scenes in which we see our contestants arriving in London for their auditions. The final part of this preamble introduces us to our judges and re-establishes the slightly over-the-top feelings that David has for Simon. The show started with a montage of awful acts including mother and daughter duo Two's Country. The pair sung a deathly dull country song that the entire panel unanimously voted off the stage.



Pastor Patrick was the first act to really make an impact on the judge as he won them over with his enthusiasm and charisma. He told the group he was a gospel choir and they all believed that he would be performing all the choir parts himself. However he later revealed that members of his choir were scattered over the auditorium. When they are all finally on stage they bring the house down and receive the first standing ovation of the series. Of course all the judges gave glowing remarks with Simon telling them they were one of the best choirs they had on the show. Personally I can only remember one choir and that being last year's runners-up Only Boys Aloud.

Next was a montage on bad comedians, including one lad who snapped at the audience, which led up to the introduction of fourteen year old Jack. Jack had suffered from cerebral palsy since he was born and couldn't walk without the aid of a chair or frame. Instead of letting his disability get him down, Jack uses it to his advantage by making it the main feature of his stand-up routine. To be fair to Jack he did have excellent comic timing and it was evident that some of his lines had been improvised on the spot. Some will feel that Jack got put through because of his disability but I personally found him to be a charming and talented young man.

The biggest talking point after this episode of Britain's Got Talent has aired will be 11 year old Alexandra. Alexandra was initially relieved by the news that Simon had no-showed the auditions but he turned up just before she went on stage. There was something that told me that Alexandra was going to be good and she was with an amazingly powerful voice. After she'd finished belting her way through 'One Night Only', Simon wasn't convinced that she was actually singing herself and described her as superhuman. I feel that Alexandra is the early favourite to win the show and I feel her abilities will be what everybody is talking about after the show has aired.

After the emotion caused by Alexandra's performance there was a bit of comedy, courtesy of Essex mum Kerry Graham. Kerry claimed that she was going on stage to perform a series of moves from her chair-based exercise programme but this turned out to be a swerve. A number of mundane moves around her chair was enough to make Simon push his button. But he soon regretted his decision as Kerry stripped off and then seductively danced around the chair to the strains of 'Freak Me'. When Kerry had finished, Simon made the unprecedented move of removing his X to show his appreciation for the Essex girl. However Kerry's night wasn't over as David pushed Simon up on to stage to get a private dance from her. Despite Simon initially enjoying himself, he soon started to get annoyed when David joined Kerry in her dance.



We then got a piece about acts coming over from Europe which led to the introduction of Attraction. Attraction were a group from Hungary who specialised in a blacklight and shadow theatre show. What this basically meant was that the group would disappear behind a screen and then arrange themselves into various shapes. Even though this sounds a bit dull on paper, Attraction were absolutely captivating as they worked in a story which was actually based on real-life events. The audience, as well as Amanda Holden, looked to be incredibly moved by Attraction's act. Attraction got unanimous praise from the judges as they described their act as emotional and touching. I also think it helps that this is the first act of its kind on Britain's Got Talent as there's nothing that we can compare it to.

The final audition of the night came from 28 year old beauty therapist Alice who had frequently battled stage fright. Alice hadn't told any of her friends or family that she was coming to the auditions because she didn't want to let anyone down if she didn't get through. Predictably, Alice proved to be an excellent singer with a jazz-blues vocal that she employed on her version of 'My Funny Valentine'. As Simon kicked off his paragraph of praise, Alice broke down in what I found to be a genuinely emotional moment. The praise continued as Alice's voice was described as authentically beautiful and that she sang like a goddess. Alice was put through to the next round with all four judges telling her that they can't wait to hear her sing again, so no pressure then.

After the screening, which went down very well in the room, we were treated to a Q&A Session with Cowell, Holden and Dixon. One of the earlier questions put to Cowell was whether or not this would be the final series of Britain's Got Talent. Cowell was quite defensive about the show and basically said this wouldn't be the last series even though their deal with ITV was up. Later he added that he thought the format still had a lot going for it especially as we live in a society where everybody wants to be famous. He also said that at the moment the Got Talent format still has a way to go but he'd know when to finish it. Simon's dress sense was also criticised throughout as those in the room made fun of his new spectacles and his plunging neck-lines. The biggest revelation came when Cowell talked about Margaret Thatcher having talent as she won three elections. When quizzed if he went to the ballot box and voted for Thatcher he revealed that he'd never once voted as he didn't see the point.

There was also a lot of banter between the judges as they all seem to delight in picking on one another. It was clear to me that Simon loves to tease Alesha and told a story about how Alesha once claimed that she didn't like people wheelchairs turning up to the auditions as they took up too much room. Simon also got on at Amanda and told the room that somewhere there was footage of her eating a banana in a rather seductive manner. Amanda later revealed that she often winds Simon up by talking about her toilet habits and revealed that he hates the word poo. The Q&A finished with someone asking about The Voice with Simon acting like he didn't know it was back on. While he was surprised that the BBC spent so much money to bring it back, he wished them well though he did tell them to get their chairs fixed. I think from those comments, it's fair to say that Cowell doesn't view The Voice as any sort of serious competition this year. I would tend to agree with him as I feel The Voice has done little to keep viewers hooked while this first episode of Britain's Got Talent hardly put a step wrong.

Britain's Got Talent starts on Saturday 13th April at 7pm

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