When thousands of telly addicts are queued snaking round St John’s Square in the rain and wind of a grey January day – you know there’s got to be some big names in town.
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And when it comes to light entertainment, there are few who can draw as much excitement – in the home of UK variety – as the Britain’s Got Talent team.
For the second year in a row, judges Simon Cowell, Alesha Dixon, Amanda Holden and David Walliams, alongside hosts Ant and Dec have been back to Blackpool searching for the best in UK discovered talent from across the country.
Paying testament to Blackpool’s place as the Las Vegas of the UK, this year, Britain’s Got Talent is only filming live auditions in three locations: Blackpool, London and Manchester, shunning major cities in favour of our resort.
Audiences at the four live auditions sessions, which took place on Tuesday and yesterday afternoon and evening, are sworn to secrecy over what they saw during the shows – but The Gazette was among the capacity crowd at the Opera House to see what’s on offer this year.
The Winter Gardens’ theatre stage was fully decked in the ITV show’s blue and silver logos – and dazzlingly lit bringing out the best in one of our resort’s entertainment gems.
The 3,000-strong audience packed in, full of anticipation.
Getting the session under way, warm-up man Stuart Holdam ran through the rules and regulations of filming – among requests for rapturous applause, whooping and hollering, and warnings of loud bangs, projectiles and strobe lighting.
But soon enough, the nation’s favourite TV double act Ant McPartlin and Dec lands Donnelly came to the stage.
Totally at ease, despite tabloid media interest surrounding Ant’s recent marriage breakdown, the hosts were warm and told the audience: “The reason we come back to Blackpool is you.”
Introducing the judges, the atmosphere took another leap, as Alesha, Amanda and Simon came through the auditorium – high-fiving fans and pausing for selfies on their way.
But funny man and children’s author David Walliams was missing... As the crowd started to look round for him, to a soundtrack of Shirley Bassey’s Get The Party Started, in a costume with a definite Blackpool twist.
Soon enough, and with no real fanfare, the first act took the stage, but we’re bound to the secrets same as everyone else. Thirteen performances ran through the session, featuring music, dance and some acts you’ve never seen before – and I’d almost guarantee never again.
I’d love to share more, but I can say I shed a couple of tears, stared open mouthed, and giggled like an idiot; variety is definitely alive.
There were red buzzers and standing ovations, chants of “Push the gold”, calling on the judges to give the talents an automatic place in the live finals in the spring.
So you’ll have to wait until then!