Britain's Got Talent's Most Controversial Moments Ever

From Jules and Matisse’s switcheroo to Susan Boyle’s turbulent times.

Just like every other reality show on the box, Britain’s Got Talent has had its fair share of controversy.

And while you wouldn’t think a show that includes dancing dogs, singing nanas and cute-as-pie children could generate the same level of outcry as the likes of Big Brother and Love Island, it has hit headlines for all the wrong reasons on plenty of occasions...

1. Jules And Matisse

Jules and Matisse
Jules and Matisse
Steve Meddle/Rex/Shutterstock

TV regulators Ofcom were forced to launch an investigation, when it emerged that Jules and Matisse’s winning BGT stunt had actually involved a second stunt dog. Eventually, it was ruled that viewers had been misled, and those who’d voted for the pooch to win the show were offered the chance to claim a refund.

2. Attraction

Jules and Matisse aren’t the only winners who faced a backlash, though, with Attraction’s victory being met with a lukewarm reception from some critics, due to the fact they’re originally from Hungary (The Sun wrote at the time: “To us it makes a mockery of the show’s premise if foreign acts enter, let alone win.”)

3. Susan Boyle

2009 finalists Diversity, Susan Boyle and Julian Smith
2009 finalists Diversity, Susan Boyle and Julian Smith
Ken McKay/Rex/ITV

Susan Boyle’s audition in the third series of Britain’s Got Talent made her an overnight sensation, eventually shooting her to worldwide fame the world over.

However, by the time she made it through to the live finals, producers were accused of exploiting a vulnerable woman, with reports repeatedly suggesting she was struggling to cope with the media attention surrounding her.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Simon Cowell has later said: “Looking back on it all, it has become clear to me that we didn’t handle the situation with Susan as well as we could have. Yet to be honest, when I analyse exactly what happened, I don’t know that I could have done it any differently.”

4. Hollie Steel

And on the subject of exploiting those in a vulnerable position, 10-year-old Hollie Steel’s performance in the BGT semi-finals back in 2009 made the headlines, when she broke down in tears during a performance of Edelweiss, asking if she could start it all again.

Although Simon Cowell later allowed her to perform again at the end of the show, it was a memorably uncomfortable moment for BGT viewers, who questioned whether children should be allowed to take part in such a high-pressure competition.

5. Ariscandra Libantino

The subject of featuring young children on the show reared its head again in 2013, when Arisxandra’s performance of One Night Only was criticised by some viewers, who suggested a song about a one night stand probably wasn’t the appropriate choice for an 11-year-old girl.

6. David Walliams and his Golden Buzzer

Each year, the judges are given one chance to fast-track an act through to the semi-finals by hitting the golden buzzer, which has given memorable BGT moments to acts like Paddy and Nico, Revelation Avenue and Callum Scott.

However, David was met with a backlash from viewers when he made the unpopular decision to put through Christian Spridon, after his *ahem* unique take on Tom Jones’s Sex Bomb.

7. Kelly Brook’s brief stint on the panel

Kelly Brook
Kelly Brook
Ken McKay/Rex/Shutterstock

Simon Cowell is no stranger to hiring and firing TV judges at the drop of a hat, but one star who was not happy with being given the boot was Kelly Brook, who later hit out at the show when she was sacked after just six days.

8. Jennifer Lopez puts on a raunchy show

Jennifer Lopez
Jennifer Lopez
Ken McKay/Rex/Shutterstock

When Jenny From The Block paid a visit to BGT in 2013, her skimpy on-stage costume and dance routine raised eyebrows among more conservative viewers, prompting complaints to Ofcom about whether the number was suitable for a family audience.

9. Alesha and Amanda’s dresses

Amanda Holden and Alesha Dixon
Amanda Holden and Alesha Dixon

Amanda Holden was slightly less diplomatic when her own outfits were criticised for being too revealing she “honestly doesn’t give a monkey’s” what people think of her clothes, adding: “It gives people something to talk about but if I worked in a bank I’d be wearing tight skirts and high heels because that’s just who I am.”

10. Doctor Gore

After viewers complained to Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator eventually ruled that BGT had breached their code by showing one of the gruesome illusionist’s more graphic numbers way back in the show’s first series.

11. Marc Métral And Wendy

Jules and Matisse weren’t the only animal act who caused a stir in 2015, with ventriloquist Marc Métral being accused of mistreating his dog by making her wear a mask around her muzzle as part of their routine.

12. Ronan Parke

Ronan Parke
Ronan Parke
Ken McKay/TalkbackThames/REX/Shutterstock

As Ronan Parke grew in popularity during the competition, a blog - claiming to be set up by an executive at Syco - suggested that the teenage singer had been groomed by Simon Cowell’s record label for the past two years, with the hopes of landing him a place on BGT.


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