'Britain's Got Talent': The 10 biggest scandals

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·13-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Britain's Got Talent has seen its fair share of scandals. (PA)
Britain's Got Talent has seen its fair share of scandals. (PA)

Britain’s Got Talent has seen a wealth of talent come through its doors since the show began in June 2007, but that is not the only reason people watch the show.

While some acts will go down in history for their pure brilliance, others can be recalled for over-estimating their ability somewhat, and some are simply remembered for all the wrong reasons.

Read more: BGT winners: Where are they now?

From misleading viewers with a tightrope-walking dog, to being criticised by one of Britain’s best-loved entertainers and having a final remembered more for eggs hurtling through the ITV studios — BGT has certainly seen its fair share of scandals.

J-Lo’s leotard (2013)

Jennifer Lopez seemed to go a bit over the top during her performance on the show in 2013 as her black bodysuit and thigh-high boots led to some viewers claiming she should’ve put more clothes on for a family show.

Ofcom revealed they received 100 complaints about J-Lo’s performance, during which she sang her latest single Live It Up.

However, the star’s rendition of her latest single was broadcast during the 9.30pm results show, which is 30 minutes after the 9pm watershed.

LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 19:  Singer/actress Jennifer Lopez (C) performs during the 2013 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 19, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Jennifer Lopez performs during the 2013 Billboard Music Awards. (Getty Images)
Yahoo UK TV Quizzes - test your knowledge (click above)
Yahoo UK TV Quizzes - test your knowledge (click above)

Jennifer seemed surprised by the criticism and insisted she is "tame” compared to some other artists.

Speaking on Scott Mills’ show on BBC Radio 1, she said: “I feel like I’m so tame.

"I wore it at Billboard and Britain’s Got Talent said they wanted exactly the same. So I thought I’d wear the outfit in black. No one complained at Billboard. I think people just like to talk.

"It was a bodysuit. A lot of performers wear that these days. It is standard stage clothes. I’m not going to walk down the street like that!”

Jules, Matisse And Chase (2015)

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 20:  Jules O'Dwyer (C) with dogs Matisse and Chase attend the 21st National Television Awards at The O2 Arena on January 20, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)
Jules O'Dwyer with dogs Matisse and Chase attend the 21st National Television Awards in 2016. (Dave Benett/Getty Images)

Arguably the greatest ever BGT scandal came in May 2015 and the morning after Jules O'Dwyer and her pet dog Matisse were crowned champions of the talent show’s ninth series.

It emerged that during the live finale Jules had used another of her dogs, Chase, who bore a great resemblance to Matisse, to perform a tight-rope trick because her main pooch was afraid of heights.

Read more: Simon Cowell denies he plans to retire from TV judging roles

More than 1,150 complaints were subsequently made to communications regulator Ofcom about this, with several viewers claiming they were misled about the canine act.

Presenters Ant and Dec didn’t mention Chase would be taking part in the act, nor did the pet pooch appear on stage when Jules and Matisse had been announced as the winners.

By defeating Welsh choir Cor Glanaethwy and magician Jamie Raven in the final, Jules won £250,000 and a spot at the Royal Variety Show, however, some fans called for the final to be replayed.

It didn’t quite come to that but in August 2015, Ofcom ruled that viewers had been “misled” over the stunt dog used by Jules, who won the vote by just two per cent over Jamie.

An Ofcom spokesman said: “After a detailed investigation, we found ITV broke broadcasting rules by misleading viewers during the series finale.

"We accepted ITV had no intention to deceive the audience. However, the presentation of the act did not make clear to viewers that a central part was performed by a second dog.”

ITV then offered to refund voters who had used paid voting to pledge their allegiance to Jules and Matisse in the final or donate their money to charity.

Henry Gallagher’s guitar (2015)

But it wasn’t just Jules, Matisse and Chase who caused controversy in 2015.

BGT bosses came under fire earlier in the series when some eagle-eyed viewers appeared to spot a continuity error in 12-year-old guitarist Henry Gallagher’s audition.

It appeared as though the youngster’s capo — which is a device used on the neck of a guitar — had suspiciously moved, which led to accusations he was allowed to perform his audition twice.

Several BGT fans took to Twitter to put such claims forward but show bosses later insisted Henry himself had moved the capo.

Read more: Britain's Got Talent: ITV defends against fix allegations after dad's 'surprise' audition

But the producers claimed that moment hadn’t made the final edit for that episode, hence the confusion.

Despite the furore surrounding his audition, in which he sang a self-written love song to a mystery girl, Henry made the semi-finals before being eliminated.

Speaking about the scandal, he said: “People were saying all sorts of stuff but I didn’t mind at all because I knew I had only performed it once, so nothing else mattered.”

Parke’s Life (2011)

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 06: Ronan Parke on stage during Pride in London 2019 at Trafalgar Square on July 06, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage for Pride in London)
Ronan Parke has gone on to launch a successful career as a singer. This picture is him singing in 2019. (PA)

Another 12-year-old whose presence on the show caused controversy was Ronan Parke.

The wannabe singer wowed the judges in the fifth series in 2011, making it all the way to the final, where he was eventually the beaten runner-up — losing out to Jai McDowall.

But shortly before Ronan progressed to the finale, BGT judge Simon Cowell was forced to call the police after a mystery blogger alleged the music mogul had known Ronan two years before he auditioned for the show and that the youngster had signed a deal with Simon’s record label.

Both parties denied the claims and Simon even spoke about them during the show’s semi-final, branding the accusations "utter lies”.

He said on the show: “The first time I met Ronan was when he appeared on the show, he entered it of his own accord. He is 12 years old, this is a deliberate smear campaign and it is my job as somebody who works on this show to make sure whoever this liar is, is exposed, and Ronan is treated the same way as everyone else and it will be the public who decides.”

Some conspiracy theorists even claimed the whole thing had been dreamt up as a publicity stunt, the thought of which Simon said made him feel “sick”.

He said: “The fact there were people who thought it was a scam, or worse that it was true or a publicity job, made me feel sick to my stomach.”

In July 2011, the blogger responsible admitted he had made up the whole thing and he was cautioned by police and made to apologise to Simon for his actions.

Stage school pro Beau (2016)

There must be something about 12-year-olds and BGT scandals as another youngster of the same age was embroiled in one in the 10th series.

“Nervous” schoolgirl Beau Dermott wowed the judges with an incredible version of Defying Gravity, a song from hit musical Wicked, during her audition, just moments after viewers had seen her mother claim it was a “really big deal” for her to perform in front of a crowd.

However, the Daily Star claimed she has attended a stage school for the past four years and has won a host of talent contests.

Read more: 'BGT' fans upset as singer Loren Allred from 'Greatest Showman' gets Golden Buzzer

She was also accused of performing in several talent competitions in her local area.

BGT were having none of it though and a spokesperson said: “This story is ridiculous. Beau had singing lessons once a month for the past four years at Stage Pro Academy. Just because she has had singing lessons, it doesn’t mean that she doesn’t get nervous when performing as was stated on the show.

"Adele, who is the biggest selling artist in the world, suffers from nerves when performing, so it’s not surprising to think that Beau would as well, especially given that she is a 12-year-old schoolgirl.”

Hollie Steel’s second chance (2009)

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 19:  Hollie Steel performs at the launch of her self-titled album at The Roundhouse on May 19, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Matt Kent/WireImage)
Hollie Steel performs at the launch of her self-titled album at The Roundhouse on May 19, 2010. (Matt Kent/WireImage)

Viewers were up in arms about the treatment of another schoolgirl contestant in 2009.

Hollie Steel shot to fame on the show when she auditioned as a 10-year-old by performing a ballet dance to I Could Have Danced All Night from musical My Fair Lady before launching into the song just as Simon was about to press his red buzzer.

The star progressed to the show’s semi-final but the pressure got to her and she forgot her words mid-performance, breaking down in tears.

She begged for a second chance to shine but BGT bosses rejected her appeals, only for Simon to give her another opportunity to sing later on in the show.

Hollie impressed with her second attempt of Edelweiss and she was put through to the final, where she put in an error-free performance which resulted in her finishing in sixth place.

The youngster’s emotional semi-final appearance sparked a nationwide debate about whether children as young as 10 should be allowed to compete in such TV talent shows.

But Simon later revealed people complained to him more about the fact he gave Hollie a second chance to sing rather than anything to do with her age.

In an article for the Daily Mail, he wrote: “In this instance, I thought giving Hollie a second chance was the right thing to do. Yet, ironically, I have had more complaints about Hollie being allowed to perform twice than anything else on the show.”

Amanda Holden breaks the watershed (2019)

Judge Amanda Holden caused a stir when during the first live show in 2019 she participated in a supernatural magic act called The Haunting which caused her to scream and swear.

When she was grabbed by a member of the act, the shaken judge screamed "f***", before covering her mouth when she realised what she had said.

Speaking after the show, Holden said: "I just really want to apologise I said a really terrible word. Massive apologies. I can honestly say I feel terrified.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 20:  (L-R) Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon, Ant McPartlin, David Walliams, Declan Donnelly and Simon Cowell arrive at the Britain's Got Talent 2019 photocall at London Palladium on January 20, 2019 in London, England.  (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon, Ant McPartlin, David Walliams, Declan Donnelly and Simon Cowell arrive at the Britain's Got Talent 2019 photo call. (Karwai Tang/WireImage)

"It’s a terrifying, amazing, thrilling experience – but I wouldn’t want anyone to go through that I really wouldn’t. It was amazing."

Ant and Dec had to apologise to viewers following the blunder.

Paddy And Nico’s past (2014)

COLOGNE, GERMANY - DECEMBER 12:  The dancers Paddy Jones and Nicko Espinosa perform on stage during the 'Das Supertalent' final show on December 12, 2015 in Cologne, Germany.  (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
Paddy Jones and Nicko Espinosa performing on stage during the Das Supertalent in Germany in 2015. (Getty)

While Beau came under fire for her talented past, she was not the first BGT act to do so.

In 2014, salsa-dancing granny Paddy Jones, 79, and her 39-year-old partner Nico Espinosa captured the hearts of the nation, and Simon, when they auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent.

But the pair faced controversy claims when it emerged they had previously won Spanish TV talent show Tu Si Que Vales — which is similar to BGT — in 2009.

Speaking about the “fix” rumours, Nico told the Sunday People at the time: “We were picked by the producers but it was our own idea.

Britain’s Got Talent is a nice change from doing things on Nico’s side in Spanish-speaking countries.

“We have come along to BGT to enjoy ourselves - and we are.”

Despite the scandal surrounding them, the dancing duo didn’t let it affect them and progressed to the final, finishing ninth overall.

Alice Fredenham’s ‘nerves’ (2013)

Another BGT wannabe who caused controversy for her appearance on another talent show was singer Alice Fredenham.

The then-28-year-old appeared to be a bag of nerves before singing My Funny Valentine during her BGT audition in April 2013.

But one week later Alice was seen auditioning for The Voice, which was filmed in December 2012, and there were no signs of her stage fright.

The hopeful appeared on stage in a low-cut white top and belted out a beautiful version of Lady Is A Tramp, before which in her pre-performance VT she claimed her confidence had “grown loads”.

The contrast in the 28-year-old beauty therapist’s auditions led to claims she was a fake.

A BBC insider told the Daily Star: “The Alice everyone saw on Britain’s Got Talent is certainly not the singer who auditioned for us.

“She was bold, confident and knew how to command the stage. It’s almost like someone told her to act shy and dress down so that she made a bigger impact during her ITV audition. Something doesn’t add up.”

However, a BGT spokesman insisted her failure on The Voice contributed to her nerves.

They said: “Not getting through on The Voice really knocked the stuffing out of her. She’s just getting a second chance. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

Natalie Holt, egg thrower (2013)

If you don’t recognise her name you may well recall Natalie Holt was the infamous musician who pelted Simon Cowell with eggs during contestant Richard and Adam’s performance on the BGT series seven final in June 2013 — one of the show’s most controversial moments of all time.

While the duo were in the middle of singing The Impossible Dream, Natalie, a member of the orchestra performing behind them, came rushing to the front of the stage and threw eggs at the music mogul.

She was escorted from the stage by the BGT security and later admitted she had planned to protest after the pair had finished their performance, apologising "unequivocally” to them for spoiling their big moment.

But Natalie had no such remorse for Simon, and revealed in a piece for the Guardian that she hurtled eggs at the BGT judge and X Factor boss because he has “too much power and influence in the entertainment industry”.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 11: Alesha Dixon and Simon Cowell and Amanda Holden attends the press launch for the new series of 'Britain's Got Talent' at ICA on April 11, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by John Phillips/UK Press via Getty Images)
Alesha Dixon and Simon Cowell and Amanda Holden (Getty Images)

She wrote: “I have no desire to be famous and I’m not an attention seeker. My actions were intended as a non-violent, egg-based protest because I think Cowell has too much power and influence in the entertainment industry. I also just wanted to make him look a bit silly. I hoped it would come across as a British panto-style jape, which might also generate some more serious debate.”

Natalie revealed she had been asked to mime on stage so was able to put her violin down and pick out the “organic” eggs from her tights.

But she also thanked the smiling Simon for not pressing charges against her.

She wrote: “Given that I had been asked to mime on stage, it was not difficult for me to put down my violin and pull the organic eggs out of my tights, and take a direct shot at Cowell; he was smiling as I threw the eggs and he seemed to take it in the right spirit.

"PR people and agents have made it known, however, that my actions might have more serious consequences for me so I would like to thank Cowell for not pressing charges.

"As an act of goodwill, I would also be happy to offer to pay his dry cleaning bill or buy him a new shirt, maybe with a few more buttons at the top.”

Watch: Simon Cowell vows off e-bikes

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting