BACK from the London press launch for Britain’s Got Talent 2011.
Where the media saw most of the first audition show to be broadcast on ITV1 at 8:20pm this Saturday.
Followed by a Q&A with judges Michael McIntyre, Amanda Holden and David Hasselhoff.
Michael and David are new to the show this year, thanks to the absence of both Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan.
And on the evidence of programme one, neither Simon nor Piers will be missed.
Simon returns for the live finals across six nights next month.
But both Michael and “The Hoff” impressed alongside Amanda and actually made it a better show.
With Michael, in particular, shining in his judging debut.
The two new boys sat in the cinema to watch the preview of episode one, which features auditions in Liverpool and Birmingham.
With Amanda joining them later for the Q&A via taxi bike in her lunch break from rehearsals for her new West End show Shrek The Musical.
ITV’s Director of Entertainment and Comedy Elaine Bedell told us: “Britain’s amateur talent has come out in force this year. I think we all feel this has been one of the best audition tours for Britain’s Got Talent that we’ve had.”
Well, she would say that, wouldn’t she?
Saturday’s opener is certainly a cracker – but then it always is.
But will subsequent weeks maintain the same standard and interest?
That’s the real test.
Elaine said: “If nothing else, I think Britain’s Got Talent has taught David something about the geography of the British Isles. He does now know where Glasgow is and that it’s not in Ireland.”
Which prompted Michael to comment: “Can I just point out that David thinks we’re in Glasgow now.”
Scroll down for my transcript of today’s press conference.
But first, here are a dozen highlights – and lowlights – to watch out for on Saturday night:
1. Ant and Dec flying the flag in a hot air balloon.
2. Royal fan Mary who mistakes Amanda Holden for Joanna Lumley.
3. Michael McIntyre convincing Mary he is Simon Cowell.
4. Desperate David asking: “Any talent coming on? I’m flying home tonight.”
5. Stand-up comedian David Knight, aged nine.
6. Gold man.
7. Two dancing dogs.
8. Blue man.
9. Telecoms engineer Steven Hall, aged 53.
10. Little Luigi.
11. IT engineer Michael Collings, aged 19. Singer and guitarist in “sherbet leisurewear”.
12. Hand bells and a Titanic finale.
Edited highlights from the press conference (some spoilers):
Michael McIntyre described watching himself on the big cinema screen as “the most terrifying hour of my life”.
He added: “It’s so weird watching yourself. I feel like you must be as annoyed at my face as I am. Anyway, other than that, I loved it.”
David Hasselhoff said: “I thought it was heartwarming and very entertaining. It was a lot fun. It ended beautifully.”
Q: David – was there as much talent in Britain as you expected there to be?
David: “Yes, there was. It was pretty much the same in the States. You just get the weird, the wacky and the wonderful. But what I found watching this show, what I experienced is the camaraderie of each city and each town. They’ve really got their own spirit. I love the audiences. At the drop of a hat they just want to sing. And they’re so into it and they’re so positive. It’s actually more fun over here than it is in the States. Everyone seems at any moment to just want to break out into a song. It’s good fun.”
Amanda (to David): “That’s a bit like you. You break out into a song quite often.”
Michael: “David, you’re describing yourself.” (laughter)
Michael: “The great thing about watching this is we only see the auditions. We know nothing of the back story and the emotion of the show and about people’s lives – it brings so much to it when you see it and you find out about people. You can’t help but be affected by their real lives.”
On being surprised by the talent of young singer Michael Collings:
Amanda: “It’s like the Susan Boyle thing. When somebody walks on stage you completely judge them as you see them. And it’s always a surprise. And it’s always a bad thing for us all to do but it’s human nature, isn’t it? You kind of just look at somebody and think about how they are physically, rather than who they are.”
Michael: “And also human nature is right. That’s why it is surprising. Because most people who look like they’re not going to be good, aren’t very good. That (the surprisingly good act) doesn’t happen all the time. It’s not one after the other of people who look like they’re not very good, with amazing voices. That’s why it’s such an impact. Most people look awful and are truly awful.”
David: “I just thought that was the highlight of the show. The show’s about heart. It’s very touching. I think it’s the appeal of the show. Why, that guy nailed it. He had a beautiful voice and great story. It’s really what the show’s about. It’s about making dreams come true. I’m sure it was a dream for him to actually get that opportunity to come up and sing in front of millions of people. It just doesn’t happen. And that’s what this show does.”
Q: Michael, did you well up during that performance and how difficult did you find it to say ‘no’ during the auditions?
Michael: “I don’t know what they were going to put in show one. And they made a thing about it. (saying ‘no’) It is very hard. But you’ve got people in front of you. It’s fine when you’re watching the TV – but when somebody’s actually staring at you and they believe that they’re very good, I found it very difficult. But you get used to it.”
Amanda: “You did…in the end. On the last day.” (smiles)
Q: Did you nearly cry as well? Did you cry at all during the auditions?
Michael: “I found it more emotional watching it on the big screen and watching it all put together. There were some moments, definitely. Some amazing moments. And I don’t know if they’ll be in the show. I wasn’t wiping away tears as much as say, Mandy. And David, you got glassy-eyed in one of them?”
David (to Michael): “No, I was really quite surprised at how emotional you were. You actually out-cried me. You did a good job. I had some tears…”
Amanda (to David): “That was jet lag.”
Michael: “But it is incredible and the emotion can come out of nowhere. I don’t want to give anything away because there are some tremendous moments. But there was this moment in the London auditions where the room was so dead – somebody actually shouted out from their seat, “I want to go home.’ That was the level. The room was restless and we were really struggling. And then somebody came out who is my favourite to win it…”
Amanda: “And mine…”
Michael: “…and just blew the roof off. Out of nowhere. And that’s what this show can do. Just in a second. And also what I love so much, looking at some of the producers in the front row, is that they would also, having made five series of this show and are thinking about what the show is going to look like…they would break down in tears at these moments, as and when they occur. That’s what’s so brilliant about it. And that’s why I’m here and not struggling against it on the other channel doing stand-up. (laughter) Because you just don’t get the emotions in stand-up. You get laughs. But if you get tears your career is ******.”
Q: What demands do you make, Amanda?
Amanda: “I make no demands. I’m low maintenance. Simon once said, of all the girl judges I am the lowest maintenance. I take that as a compliment. My husband does not think so. But Simon does.”
Q: Are you missing Simon and Piers even a tiny bit?
Amanda: “Sorry, who?” (laughter)
Q: Michael and David – this is the first time you’ve seen yourselves? And you’re both new to the show. Now you’ve seen yourselves, are you better than Simon and Piers, do you think?
David: “Well, I worked with Piers before for four years, so I kind of knew what I was up against. I think we’re just so different. We’re not better, we’re just different. I think Michael is so entertaining and so funny. It’s just really fun for me to sit there and have him sometimes interpret what the guys on stage are saying, because half the time I really don’t understand what they’re saying. Not better. We’re just different.”
Michael: “One of the things I thought really early when I was doing it was how lucky I was to be sitting here. I just kept thinking…because literally, we could all do this job and we’re offering our opinion. And everybody’s got an opinion. And the fact that I could offer my opinion and potentially help somebody make it, give them a break, I found that a privilege. So everybody will be different in the role. We’ll be very different to them. But the great thing is, I just really enjoyed you two and I thought we really got on. And it was interesting as well when we differed in opinion because you never know what people’s opinion is going to be. So the show will be different. Simon’s coming back as well. So it will be great once you get to know us to see a character you know…”
Q: Have you had any feedback from Simon yet?
Michael: “Simon phones every day.” (laughter)
Amanda: “He loves it. He does love it. He’s phoned us all and said he loves it. And we were all drunk when we got the call, weren’t we?”
Michael: “It was exciting when Simon called. It was my wife’s birthday. I was in Venice and I’d had – I’ve actually worked it out – 917 Bellinis.”
Amanda: “I was on my way back from dinner and we all said, ‘Did you get a call from Simon?’ (drunk voice) I don’t really know what he said but he sounded pleased.”
Michael: “I think it really adds to the show that he’s got such a presence and it’s his show. And, for me, he makes the best shows on TV. I just felt him there all the time and everyone was talking about him. And it was a huge moment when he watched it. And he absolutely loves it. I’m thrilled for that and it made me more excited about today. And I’m thrilled that he’s coming back because I think it’ll be really good fun.”
Q: Amanda – you’ve said that The Hoff is sometimes in his own little bubble world. So how are you bringing him back to earth?
Amanda: “Red Bull. No…I mean that in a positive way. Because he’s an American and because he’s a superstar in America, he has a completely different way of looking at things. Completely unique. I found it very amusing. He could do motivational speeches. He’s covered everything. He’s got the T-shirt line, mugs, trousers, quotes – I think you’re bringing out ‘Hoffee’ next? I think he should bring out a motivational DVD.”
Q: Any tips you’ve given to Michael?
Amanda: “I love Michael. All I kept saying to him was, though…he’s just not used to having the audience behind him and he’s so used to entertaining them that he just was turning round constantly and everyone was just trying to get him to get his chair round so that the camera could actually film him. Because he loves keeping the audience laughing.”
Michael: “And then you say something that they don’t like and they boo. And I didn’t like that.”
Amanda: “You didn’t like that. You got quite upset…you kept going, ‘Mandy, I can’t press my buzzer.’”
Michael: “I changed my mind in Glasgow.”
Q: By the end of the auditions, which act were you competely sick of?
Amanda: “Freestyle body-popping…and footballers.”
David: “We had a lot of footballers. I think in the end we’re actually really excited for the finals because we really have a good show. We really have a diversified show and it’s so much fun and some fantastic talent. There’s one kid on here you haven’t seen yet. It’s so emotional and you will see us all in tears because it was an amazing moment. I think that’s what the audience wants to see. I know just watching it back here. We’re all sitting in the front row having seen the acts and we’re still moved by them. Because we never saw the back stories until today. It’s a very heartwarming show.”
Michael: “I’m sure there are people in this room who will find the back stories for us…before the end of the day.”
Q: Did one of you take charge when it came to judging the acts?
Michael: “Mandy took charge.”
Michael: “Because Mandy’s been doing it a long time – Mandy’s been unleashed in this series.”
Q: Michael got quite a bit of flak from the audience in Glasgow?
Michael: Oh, no I didn’t. I haven’t obviously watched what’s on the show. But you depend on who comes down to audition. I’ve done lots of gigs in Scotland and I love Scotland. It’s been a huge part of my life working up there and I was hugely excited to be with a Scottish audience. But I think we were just unfortunate that on the day the acts that auditioned weren’t great that day.”
Amanda” “They weren’t great.”
Michael: “It was a shame. So the audience were restless because of that, really. And they were like no other audience, really. They would all chant, ‘Cheerio, cheerio…’ if they didn’t like an act. And that was chanted a lot that day.”
David: “I didn’t understand a word they said – I hadn’t a clue, I was completely lost with Scotland. But they’re very nice people.”
Michael: “But having said that, it’s the law of averages. Scotland did produce Susan Boyle who is the greatest success of this competition and she came from nowhere and she blew it away when we went to Glasgow. And I don’t think that’s going to happen this year with the acts that auditioned. But we had great fun up there.”
Amanda: “…in the evening, at the hotel.”
Q: Could each judge say who their pick is to win?
Amanda: “My favourite this year is a young singer.”
Q: Boy or girl?
David: “It’s really hard to say, especially after watching that guy singing today. My God, he just blew me away. The whole thing comes back as well. But, you know, there’s a young talent in this show, a dancer. And it was pretty much for me the most emotional moment of the show because he has a handicap and he came on and he was just unbelievable and you could see that he danced his life out on that stage and his feelings. It was pretty emotional for me. He was an amazing kid.”
Michael: “We did the decisions where you say who’s going through to the finals. We filmed them last Sunday. And just seeing people again and just having an insight into some of the emotion behind the characters, it makes you root for them more. So I just feel like as the series goes on I’m going to probably change my mind many times. That one dancer, I by no means think he’s the best. I don’t know what his story is, either. But the way he reacts when you said yes to him was the most extraordinary thing I’ve ever seen. He let out a noise I’d never heard before. So you can’t help but get carried away by people’s stories, like I just have there even more so watching that back. But at the moment it’s the boy from London…the boy or girl.” (laughter)
Q: Do you ever think a totally different act to a singer or dancer could win?
Amanda: “There’s a fantastic impressionist this year. I would love something like that to win it. Love it. Some of the singing acts and some of the dancing acts are more heartfelt because there’s music involved. I don’t know what it is, but when music is involved with an act, it gets behind it and it gets into your emotions a lot more. And that makes you vote for people.”
Michael: “And I wouldn’t have thought that Diversity would have won. That came out of the blue, street dancing. There’s certainly variety. So there’s a big chance.”