This year’s Britain’s Got Talent series will see Got Talent winners from around the world take part – and Simon Cowell admits it could put people off voting for them.
When asked if viewers would think they have an unfair advantage over other first-time acts, Cowell said: “They might think that and they may not vote.”
But he’s confident having previous champions take part is good for the show.
“I don’t think it does any harm injecting some people who have already won the competition in other countries because I think it makes everyone else work that bit harder.”
Among the previous winners is sword swallower Alex Magala. He reached the quarter-finals of America’s Got Talent in 2013 and within the year went on to reach the semi-finals of Ukraine’s Got Talent, was a finalist on Italia’s Got Talent and then subsequently won Russia’s Got Talent.
“[It’s] literally the scariest thing I have ever seen on a live stage and for that reason I’m glad he’s there,” Cowell said. “He deserves it.”
Britain’s Got Talent has faced criticism in the past for allowing acts from other countries to audition, regardless of whether they’ve set foot on one of the other 59 Got Talent stages. Hungarian shadow theatre group Attraction came under fire after they won in 2013. But Cowell said at the time that it was a testament to the UK that they’d been victorious.
“We want everyone to do well, no matter where they’re from,” he told the Mirror. “It’s a positive, not a negative.”
Indeed, ahead of this year’s tenth anniversary series Cowell confesses he’s somewhat stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to the show’s rules.
“Whatever we do, there will be criticism. If you don’t have acts from other countries, why don’t you? If you do, then why are you? If it’s good for the competition then we should encourage it.”
The winning spot on the Royal Variety Performance is a big draw too, he says.
“Again, with the overseas contestants they all say they would love the chance to perform in front of the Royal Family because that’s a unique prize.”
And as Cowell points out, as much as the judges make the early decisions, it’s the viewers who have the voting power in the finals.
“At the end of the day, we don’t control it, the public do, it’s their choice.”
Britain’s Got Talent returns this Saturday at 7:00pm on ITV