ITV is extending its relationship with Simon Cowell for another three years. The British network has pacted with Cowell and Sony’s Syco Entertainment and FremantleMedia UK to keep reality competition series The …
As Simon Cowell put it yesterday, Britain’s Got Talent has “gotten some stick” in the past few weeks. Viewers have reacted to what they perceive as inappropriate acts on the show, and also to the fact that some current contestants have previously appeared on TV. Cowell took to Twitter on Sunday to address the latter complaints, saying, “We try and have a no rules policy on the show… Would it be right to say to someone who has appeared on a show before you can’t audition?” Referring to BGT‘s biggest breakout star, he added, “I believe Susan Boyle had appeared on another tv show years ago. Nothing happened. Bgt gave her another go. Is that wrong? I am not whining. Simply wanted to explain there is no hush hush plot. I just think everyone deserves a second chance.”
Simon Cowell’s Britain’s Got Talent returned to ITV with much fanfare on Saturday night, beating rival BBC show The Voice UK and causing some controversy in the process. BGT had its second biggest launch in seven years scoring an average 10.5M viewers and peaking at just over 13M. Only the 2010 start was bigger with a 10.6M average.
But two acts have been deemed inappropriate by some in the Twittersphere and by a group that campaigns for family values in the media. The performances in question saw an 11-year-old girl sing the one-night-stand-themed “One Night Only” from Dreamgirls, while a 40-something woman did a semi-striptease and gave Cowell a mini-lapdance. Vivienne Pattison, director of Mediawatch UK, told The Daily Mail that ITV appeared “to have completely ignored” guidelines set up by regulator Ofcom which has warned broadcasters about sexually explicit content ahead of the 9 PM watershed. But an ITV spokesman tells Deadline, “In its seventh series, Britain’s Got Talent celebrates variety and showcases a wide range of different acts. Mindful of our family audience, the performance was carefully edited to ensure it was suitably inexplicit.” Ahead of this weekend’s controversy, an ITV source told me the network chose to air BGT at 7 PM despite a clash with the BBC’s The Voice, because otherwise it “would have had to go late” and risk losing the family audience.
ITV has confirmed that Simon Cowell will return to Britain’s Got Talent as a judge for the show’s seventh season. Cowell will reunite with judges Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams after coming back to the show in 2012 to give it a boost as it faced off with BBC1’s The Voice UK. Last May’s BGT season 6 finale was seen by a peak of 14.5M viewers and was the most watched show of the year up to that point. Cowell’s full-time return to BGT in January comes just as the impresario is facing a big ratings slip at his other ITV talent show, The X Factor. On Sunday, that show’s finale fell to its lowest ratings since 2006 igniting calls for Cowell to return to the series he left in 2010 to concentrate on its U.S. version which airs on Fox. Both BGT and The X Factor’s contracts with ITV are up after their upcoming seasons.
Has Simon Cowell blinked? With BBC One’s The Voice UK steadily gaining on Cowell’s Britain’s Got Talent over on ITV, the latter network will step out of the line of fire for upcoming episodes. Beginning April 21, BGT will kick off 30 minutes later than it has for the past several weeks, and 10 minutes after The Voice ends. ITV originally set a challenge to The Voice when it moved BGT ahead several weeks so the two shows would debut on the same night. This had followed an earlier bidding war in which both networks were vying for broadcast rights to The Voice. BGT also brought back Cowell as a judge this year in a widely touted move.
As I reported on Tuesday, although BGT’s ratings were originally ahead of The Voice, the BBC One show beat BGT in the overall ratings for the first time this past Saturday and has been steadily adding viewers over its three frames. Key however is the fact that the shows only overlapped for a 20-minute period with The Voice airing from 7-8:20pm and BGT from 8-9:20pm. It’s that 20-minute space where The Voice has soared past BGT each week,
Deadline contributor Tim Adler files this international report:
Simon Cowell will return as one of the judges on next year’s Britain’s Got Talent, ITV boss Adam Crozier has confirmed. The X Factor impresario will resume his seat on the talent show following the recent exits of judges David Hasselhof and Michael McIntyre. Speaking to press this afternoon in London, the ITV boss also hinted that ITV Studios may be in the market to buy an American production company, pointing out that the U.S. is the second-liveliest market for independent TV producers apart from the UK. For now though, Crozier is concentrating on wiping out the £612 million worth of debt he inherited by year’s end. “When you inherit something that isn’t working, the worst thing you can do is start bolting things on,” he said.