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Launching with a comedy sequence from the actual Queen herself (give or take), the first episode of the new series is chock-full of charm, belly laughs and tear-jerking moments in equal measure.
Standout acts include the adorable Flakefleet Primary School choir, who reduce even David Walliams to a blubbering mess, and creepy Elizabeth, whose supernatural magic act will leave you scratching your head for days (once you’ve stopped freaking out from the sudden scares she provides).
But the real magic of Britain’s Got Talent is the sheer variety of the acts that take part – and in many cases the sheer weirdness.
You’d think after 13 years, we’d have pretty much seen it all, but the opener proves that BGT still has the power to surprise and appal.
Take Ron, the 45-year-old singing Dalek from Nottinghamshire, or Y Pedwar Covi, a group of men with something unexpected under their kilts. We know they’re rubbish, they know they’re rubbish, the judges certainly know they’re rubbish – but the humour here doesn’t come from Cowell’s catty putdowns or the contestant’s delusions that they’re going to be superstars. Instead, the joy is derived from the show embracing and celebrating its wackiness.
This bold, bright beginning demonstrates that Britain’s Got Talent is showing no signs of flagging – a bit like the judges themselves, all four of whom are returning for their eighth year in a row.
Unlike its sister show The X Factor, which almost prides itself on its circus of backbiting and feuds between its perpetually changing panelists, the familiarity and warmth shared by the judges on BGT is genuinely pleasant to watch. Soundtracked by Alesha Dixon’s filthy laugh, there’s Amanda Holden’s likeable desire to get involved with the acts no matter how daft, and Cowell’s natural chemistry with mick-taker Walliams, which draws the viewer in and includes them in the joke.
Strangely, Ant McPartlin’s return to our screens after a well-publicised break from his TV commitments in 2018 is largely ignored by the show but linking back up with his co-host Declan Connelly it’s as is he’s never been away (in BGT terms, he hasn’t really – he was only absent from the last year’s live finals week).
The only duff note in the episode is the opening scene in which we’re forced to follow a star around the UK, culminating in Cowell appearing from thin air – a touch too schmaltzy even for Saturday night on ITV.
But in a world in which the outlook is increasingly grim, there’s something reassuring about Britain’s Got Talent being back at its feel-good best – no matter how daft the acts are.
Britain’s Got Talent returns Saturday 6th April at 7:15pm on ITV