Simon Cowell on why Britain's Got Talent almost 'got cancelled'

 Britain's Got Talent Bruno Tonioli, Alesha Dixon, Amanda Holden, Simon Cowell and hosts Ant and Dec.
Britain's Got Talent Bruno Tonioli, Alesha Dixon, Amanda Holden, Simon Cowell and hosts Ant and Dec.

Britain's Got Talent almost ended before it had begun - that's according to the show's head honcho Simon Cowell.

The entertainment juggernaut returns to ITV1 for its 17th series on Saturday night as Britian's Got Talent 2024 brings us more weird and wonderful acts from across the UK - and beyond - as they audition with a talent they think will be fit for royalty.

However, now Simon has revealed that BGT was actually cancelled after its pilot episode in 2005 only to be resurrected two years later to become the success story it is today.

Britain's Got Talent auditions dance act
Britain's Got Talent auditions dance act

"We did the pilot here, and it was rubbish,' he candidly told us, alongside fellow judges Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and Bruno Tonioli, at the show's official press launch on Tuesday, April 16.

"Then, luckily, we sold it to America, and it was a hit, so ITV bought it. But three days before we were due to film, they cancelled it. So we went up to the auditions in Birmingham thinking: 'We've got 24 hours, if it doesn't work in the first day, we're toast!' And, thank God, that first day went well."

Simon never once imagined BGT - hosted by national treasures Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly - would turn into the ratings winner it has, running for a whopping 17 series and giving us Britain's Got Talent winners like dance troupe Diversity, singers Susan Boyle and Paul Potts and lots more.

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

Game of Talents Susan Boyle Britain's Got Talent
Game of Talents Susan Boyle Britain's Got Talent

And he has a fair idea of what has contributed to the show's longevity.

'I think it's because so many people now come from all over the world to compete and it's not just about winning the show, it's about having that viral moment, which you know can literally change your life overnight. These clips often get hundreds of millions of views. That's why people are going to come back year after year."

What To Watch says:

What To Watch was treated to a sneak preview and it's safe to say that Britain has STILL got talent, with the first episode of this new series featuring, we think, some of the best acts EVER to grace the BGT stage.

Singers, dancers, impressionists, acrobats and dogs doing tricks... we've seen them all before. But NOT like this! Trust us when we say, you will not be disappointed.

"What I'm seeing, thank God, is the acts are getting better," said Simon. "I think BGT is going to be here for a long, long time."

Britain's Got Talent 2024 judges official key art
Britain's Got Talent 2024 judges official key art

Britain's Got Talent returns on Saturday, April 20 at 7.30pm on ITV1.