Viewers were made to wait for their fix of line-dancing, salsa grannies and Simon Cowell as Britain’s Got Talent returned to ITV for a new series on Saturday night. But an overrunning FA Cup match didn’t appear to dampen the nation’s enthusiasm for the weird and wonderful acts the country, and the world, have to offer, with record numbers tuning in for the launch, to make it the biggest show of 2014 so far.
Arsenal’s semi-final penalties win over Wigan Athletic pushed BGT’s start time back from 7:15pm to 8pm but the talent show appeared to capitalise on the football’s peak audience of 10.58 million (a 48.5% share) during the penalty shoot-out, with an average rating of 11.07m – a staggering 47.3% of the viewing public between 8pm and 9:15pm.
That made it not only the biggest overnight audience of the year – overshadowing other big-hitters Coronation Street (10.07m), Call the Midwife (9.61m) and Sherlock (9.18m) – but also Britain’s Got Talent’s most successful launch show ever, with the previous high of 10.6m (44%) back in 2010, according to figures provided by audience research board BARB.
The Saturday-night success continued for ITV immediately after BGT, with Amazing Greys – which saw youngsters take on talented veterans – pulling in 4.47m (21.8%) to win its slot against Rob Brydon’s rival new game show The Guess List on BBC1, with 3.10m (15.3%).