After months off the air, Britain’s Got Talent 2020 is back, and judge Simon Cowell has promised the semi-finals will have been worth the wait.
During an appearance on This Morning, hosts Ant and Dec revealed how the virtual audience will work when the live shows return.
“We’ve got no audience in the studio, but we’ve got a massive virtual audience,” Dec explained. “So we’ve got 500 people on a huge wall in the studio, sat at home watching it. It’s really really good.”
“It’s tough for the acts, especially for the comedians, to come out and perform in front of nobody and so we needed something and they’ve come up with this, which is a very clever idea,” Ant chipped in.
Dec added: “We were quite nervous about it as well, thinking, ‘Is this going to work?’ And thankfully it does.”
The show’s creator Cowell, who sadly won’t be attending the live shows after breaking his back in an electric bicycle accident, said the upcoming “high tech” semi-finals are set to be an unprecedented viewing experience.
“I don’t want to give too much away but when you watch the semi-finals and final you’re going to see something you’ve never seen before, it’s very high tech,” he said. “It’s been very stimulating putting the whole thing together.”
He added that he did initially worry that Britain’s Got Talent would not be able to return due to COVID-19.
“But then I thought, ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way’. I just thought that if we can talk to each other all over the world on something like Zoom then there must be a way for us to do the live shows.”
This year’s series was paused after the audition episodes finished airing in May while producers worked out how to go ahead with the live shows in light of coronavirus however, the semi-finals will begin airing next week with one difference – there’ll be no studio audience for the first time in the show’s history.
Speaking about the lack of a live crowd, Cowell said that from what he’s seen so far, “it won’t change the vibe in the room”.
“I don’t want to give too much away but what we are planning to do will mean it will still feel like you’ve got this tremendous energy behind us on the panel,” he said, seemingly referring to the “wall” of audience members viewing from their sofas. “You’ll be able to see and hear the audience watching at home, it’ll just be different.”
He added that a number of other coronavirus protocols have been put in place for the semi-finals, with acts having to rehearse “in a completely different way” and the judges needing to be more spread out.
“I think we’re going to have the longest judges’ desk in the world to make sure everyone has lots of space!” he said.
While the long-standing judge is recuperating, his place on the judging panel will be filled by Diversity’s Ashley Banjo, who won the show with his dance troupe in 2009.
On Sunday, ITV aired a Britain’s Got Talent special, announcing which 40 acts will appear in the live semi-finals in the coming weeks.