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Simon Cowell discusses Britain's Got Talent cancellation ahead of 17-year anniversary

The A-lister joined Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and Bruno Tonioli at the launch of Britain's Got Talent's 17th season

Bruno Tonioli, Alesha Dixon, Amanda Holden and Simon Cowell standing in a line
Megan Bull
TV Writer
17 April 2024
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Simon Cowell is gearing up for the season 17 premiere of Britain's Got Talent. With the first round of auditions ready to air on Saturday night, HELLO! joined the record executive and his fellow judges – Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and Bruno Tonioli – at the series launch in London. 

Simon Cowell joined Amanda Holden, Alicia Keys and Bruno Tonioli at the season 17 launch© Getty
Simon Cowell joined Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and Bruno Tonioli at the season 17 launch

After watching a screening of the latest episode with his fiancée Lauren Silverman, not to mention a special message from Ant and Dec, Simon headed to the stage for the Q&A portion. Asked about the show's 20th anniversary, which will occur in 2027, the 64-year-old couldn't help but wax nostalgic. 

"I was waiting for that. This show has a very interesting history about when we first started because we did the pilot here and it was rubbish," Simon told outlets. "Then luckily, we sold it to America, and it was a hit there, then thank God, ITV bought it. 

Simon Cowell in a grey jumper and sunglasses© Eamonn M. McCormack
Simon recalled how the series was initially cancelled

"It was no one here by the way, but three days before we were due to film, they cancelled it. We went up to Birmingham and because I didn't tell anyone, [I'm] thinking we've got 24 hours and If it doesn't work on the first day, we're toast. Thank God the first day went well.

"I always thought if we could get three or four years out of this it would be amazing," he continued. And then you reach 10 years and you go, 'That's a milestone'."

Reflecting on the magic of BGT, Simon noted: "I think because so many people now come from all over the world to compete and it's not just about winning the show, it's having that viral moment which can literally change your life overnight. You know, where these clips sometimes get hundreds of millions of views?

Simon's BGT co-star Amanda Holden is to blame for the photo resurfacing© Getty
The TV star hopes Britain's Got Talent will be around for years to come

"I think that's why people are gonna come back year after year after year and hopefully keep competing and getting better because that's what I'm seeing is that the acts are actually – thank God – getting better. And because the show has all ages, I think it's going to be here for a long, long time." 

During the event, the judges also revealed they're going all out with the golden buzzers this year. In previous series, each panel member could only give one act the honour of heading straight to the live shows but this time around, it's far more flexible! 

"There aren't any rules now," laughed Alesha Dixon. "We used to have rules before you joined," she said, turning to Bruno Tonioli, who famously came under fire for pressing the golden buzzer twice.

Amanda took her place on the judging panel for the first BGT live show© Dymond/Thames/Shutterstock
The judges will get to use their golden buzzer more than once this time around

As for his hopes for the seventeenth series, Simon told the crowd: "For me, first of all you've gotta be surprised because, you know…people [think] you must have seen the acts before, and genuinely we don't know until they walk out.

"So for me, I like being surprised. Secondly, you want them to be great. And third, you don't want a worse version of what you've seen before because then it is boring. And I think as you saw on this episode, this show has evolved now where you've got acts coming from all over the world to compete so I think that makes it more exciting." 

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