Britain's Got Talent's first live semi-final kicked off in grand style with Ant n Dec jumping on a London bus, and miming along to Queen's Don't Stop Me Now. We get the message – it’s the best of British we’re celebrating here.
And so it was, with the victors of the first live semi-final a bunch of troubled schoolboys Only Boys Aloud who’ve found a creative nest in a choir, a trio of boy-bandy urban warriors/crooners The Mend, and a girl and her dancing dog.
Ashleigh and Pudsey got the top vote and were straight through to Saturday's grand live final. The judges couldn’t decide between the other two, and so the public vote came into play, and it was Only Boys Aloud who will be in the final on Saturday.
But Simon’s eyes were twinkling speculatively, and I have a feeling we’ll be hearing from The Mend again.
Ashleigh and Pudsey previously blew away the judges with their Flintstones audition piece, and they did it again on Sunday. “What I’ve been waiting for all my life,” said Simon. “A lot of dogs in my life, but never one like this.” He even wanted to breed a puppy.
Walliams thanked Ashleigh and Pudsey for making Simon so happy.
It was left to Welsh choir Only Boys Aloud, to bring the traditional back to the stage, digging into their valley roots for their music, with members describing it as "more like a family" and thanking their choir master for his inspiration.
And here’s a round-up of the rest of the acts…
Zipparah Tafari was the first on stage with his catchy ditty I Want My Keys, I Want My Phone – and it was a big production number. For some reason, Right Said Fred kept coming to mind, with Walliams predicting it would be voted “the most annoying number one of all time”. Simon was left wondering, “What’s it actually about?” Surely the answer is… ker-ching in Simon's coffers.
The Jive Aces were up next, a bunch of yellow-suited, bow-tied jovial folk, bouncing their banded way through Jungle Book. The judges weren’t impressed, which was bizarre in Simon’s case. “I was wondering what you were going to do,” he said. Doesn’t he arrange the whole thing? Funny how the bananas splits brigade got no extra production, and Zippy did. It’s almost like there might be money to be made out of one of them.
And so we moved on, into the world of Lauren Thalia, the schoolgirl with a scary imagination and an oversized guitar. Verdict: Fearless and cool, said Simon. Great leggings, said Walliams.
United We Stand turned up next. Urban acts have to be really, REALLY good to be more fun to watch than to join in. Buzzers were heard from Simon and Amanda: Indulgent and boring, said Simon. Ambitious piece, said the more esoteric Walliams. Oh, and Amanda said something negative, about Americans being better than this.
Aneliza Ching and her fiddle rocked up. Do great violinists strut around in a leather dress with an electric-blue instrument or are they sitting sedately booked up for four years with an international philharmonic? A born performer, said Alesha. The best performer so far, said Simon… perhaps with one eye on ker-ching classic.
The Mend were the first conventionally commercial offering of the night – boyband – tick, 80s cover (Cutting Crew, I Just Died In Your Arms) – tick, bit of urban dancing – tick, hoodies and hats – tick tick tick. What’s not to love? Hmm, let’s start with the trainers. It was unbelievably contrived. It even brought out the urban in Alesha. On point, she said. Sick, said Amanda. The E17 to One Direction’s Take That, said Simon. Sign them on a Sunday, with their charisma… until they started speaking. Don’t let them.
Rachel Knowland, singing the Ronettes’ Be My Baby had a certain Rebecca Ferguson understated appeal, but sadly without the voice. Safe, said Amanda. Forgettable, said Simon. A timeless star, said Walliams. Time for the dancing dog…
And we’ve got four more of these this week. Happy, happy times.
The complete final 45... who is the best proof that Britain's got talent? Have your vote!