Why Britain’s Got Talent gets even better when it goes live

Unedited judges, bigger performances and even more Ant and Dec... semi-final week is the show at its best, says Emma Daly

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Britain’s Got Talent has reached the semi-finals and that – excitingly – means it’s going live.

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Exciting for many reasons. Firstly it means that for almost an entire week we don’t have to aimlessly scroll through Netflix hoping something will jump out. We also get to see some of the best acts of this year perform again – the woman with the foot puppets anyone? – and it also means the judges are, deliciously, unedited.

Think David Walliams gets away with a lot during the auditions? Wait until his efforts to wind up the boss can’t be cut out. Hold your breath for Amanda Holden blurting out the first thing she thinks of or Alesha Dixon having a full on laughing fit. This panel live is as unexpected as the acts themselves making it proper appointment-to-view telly. And we need a bit of that otherwise we resort to talking about actual work with our colleagues.

This, of course, purely builds on an already impressive run: this year’s series has all but drowned in viewing figures. Even a sizzling Saturday couldn’t stop more than 8 million BGT fans downing the BBQ tools to see who was hitting their buzzers for whom.

Live means hosts Ant and Dec back front and center, too. They’ve been hilarious from the side of the stage, continuing to smash the fourth wall with their to camera commentary. But out on the stage, live in front of an audience, is Ant and Dec at their best. It’s the small things, like Ant’s shock when Cowell asked him to get him a glass of water last year. It cleverly disrupts the faultless live TV we’ve come to expect from the duo and moves us on from the highly stylised auditions that came before. It’s part of the shows charm after all: laughing along together and feeling a sense of community whether we’re with the whole family or alone on the sofa waiting for our Just Eat delivery (ahem).  

The acts get bigger and better – all eager to up the ante from their original audition – and we finally get some voting power. We’ll be the judge of what’s fit for our Queen. 

BGT’s live finale week is proper chuck-yourself-in-and-enjoy-the-ride stuff. Life admin can wait. 

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Britain’s Got Talent live semi-finals start Sunday 22nd May on ITV