Spring has sprung, which means only one thing – Britain’s Got Talent is back on the box. We take a walk down memory lane and remember the faces who made us laugh, cry and clap along
Jiggling bellies, dancing dogs and angry egg-shaped protests, Britain’s Got Talent has always come up trumps with its memorable contestants. And with the new series now in full swing, we look back on the most unforgettable acts in the show’s history…
1. SUSAN BOYLE
Who could forget SuBo’s first audition in Glasgow in 2009? Oh, how the judges sniggered when the bushy-eyebrowed star told them she wanted to be just like Elaine Paige – until they heard her stunning rendition of the Les Miserables track I Dreamed A Dream. You could almost see the pound signs flashing in Mr Cowell’s eyes.
Missing out on the top spot to dance troupe Diversity didn’t affect Boyle’s success much. In fact, her debut album, also called I Dreamed A Dream, became the bestselling debut in UK chart history when it was released later that year.
Since then, she’s appeared on Oprah, sung for the Pope and duetted with her idol, Paige. And that clip of her very first TV appearance has racked up 167 million views on YouTube. Beat that, Simon Cowell.
2. PAUL POTTS
When unassuming Carphone Warehouse manager Paul Potts stepped onto the Britain’s Got Talent stage in series one, the judges weren’t looking too optimistic. But the operatic tenor blew Simon, Amanda Holden and Piers Morgan away with his rendition of Puccini’s Nessun Dorma.
After he was crowned winner, Potts recorded two UK top five albums and had a feature film, 2013’s One Chance, made about his life, with Gavin & Stacey star James Corden in the lead role. He’s also sporting a gleaming smile after treating himself to some dental work.
3. JACK CARROLL
Hearts were duly melted when schoolboy Jack Carroll first auditioned for BGT back in 2013. Then aged 14, the Yorkshire lad had the panel and audience in titters with a tongue-in-cheek stand-up routine which made light of his cerebral palsy.
The funny teen didn’t win the show, that honour went to Hungarian theatre group Attraction, but it didn’t stop him quipping his second place was “insensitive” given his condition.
Carroll needn’t have worried though, with David Walliams writing a role especially for him in his comedy Big School, his star continues to rise.
The troupe of nimble-footed Essex and East London lads burst onto the stage in 2009 with their unique blend of quick, slick street dance. The group, led by then-physics student Ashley Banjo, went on to win the contest (beating SuBo to the top spot in a shock result).
Since then, Diversity have bagged their own tours, carried the Olympic torch and taken part in the closing ceremony of Prince Harry’s Invictus Games. What’s more, breakout star Banjo has judged Sky1’s Got To Dance and featured in documentary show Ashley Banjo’s Secret Street Crew.
5. ASHLEIGH AND PUDSEY
Back in 2012, one girl and her dog did a very unusual thing; they won Simon Cowell over straight away with their Flintstones dance routine.
Not only that, but clever canine Pudsey and his teenage owner Ashleigh became the first dog trick act to win the show.
Since then, the pooch and his owner have done the conga with Kim Kardashian and met the Queen, while Pudsey has starred in his own film.
6. STAVROS FLATLEY
On paper, it’s not the kind of act you’d think would work. A portly Greek Cypriot father and his 12-year-old son take their tops off, revealing maps of Cyprus on their bellies, don Boris Johnson-esque wigs and leap around the stage in a pastiche of Michael Flatley’s Riverdance.
And yet the third series saw the panel and show fans fall under the mesmerising, and slightly peculiar spell, of an act which did just that.
With stiff competition from Susan Boyle, Diversity, and saxophonist Julian Smith, old Stavros danced away with the fourth place and they are still boogieing together to this day.
7. NATALIE HOLT
Natalie Holt was playing in the orchestra in the 2013 BGT final but cracked her way onto centre stage in an un-egg-spected way.
Aiming to pelt eggs at Simon Cowell – as a protest to what she saw as his dominance in the music industry – after Welsh brothers Richard and Adam Johnson had finished their song, the violinist cracked and stormed the stage much earlier.
The brothers bravely battled on with their rendition of The Impossible Dream but walked away with the third place. Nowadays, the singing siblings are still releasing albums, while Holt is forging ahead as a film and TV composer.
8. GEORGE SAMPSON
George Sampson was just a pint-sized 14-year-old from Warrington when he break-danced his way to the Britain’s Got Talent crown (remember his body popping rendition of Singin’ In The Rain?)
He went on to appear in the West End hip-hop musical Into The Hoods and shown off his acting chops in 2009 film Streetdance 3D, BBC drama Waterloo Road, and Sky1 comedy Mount Pleasant.
Britain’s Got Talent is on ITV1 every Saturday