We catch up with Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden to find out how she looks so good all the time
It’s been another vintage year over at Britain’s Got Talent. From the Missing People Choir to teenage singing sensation Sarah Ikumu, we’ve gawped and got totes emosh over the acts on the weekend teatime telly staple.
But it’s Daliso Chaponda, a comedy writer from Malawi, who’s had the audience in stitches – and Amanda Holden pressing her golden buzzer. It seems she’s a big fan.
Amanda, 46, lives in London with her husband Chris Hughes and their daughters Lexi, 11, and Hollie, five. When she’s not on BGT, she’s busy starring in Stepping Out at the West End’s Vaudeville Theatre, but she’s just about found time to chat to Now in the middle of her busy schedule – in fact, when she calls, she’s early! And once she’s on the phone, she’s a laugh and all-round good sport. She chats to us about what we can expect from the week-long live shows, her amazing friendship with her fellow judges and why it’s been particularly chilled out this year on the judging panel…
Who’s your fave BGT judge?
I don’t have a favourite! I really like all of them. This year, it’s been very chilled out and lots of fun. Simon [Cowell] has been particularly relaxed. It feels really right when we’re together and we all love each other’s company so much.
What act have you loved the most from this season?
I thought Simon’s golden buzzer act Sarah Ikumu was sensational. She was absolutely fantastic and she came across so well. Then there was eight-year-old magician Issy Simpson – she was very cute.
And your most memorable act from the series so far?
It’s got to be the Missing People Choir. They were so emotive and for me it was one of those defining moments. What I love about Britain’s Got Talent is how global it’s become. It means we can make a difference in a really good, different way rather than a shallow way.
What acts make you cringe?
This year, it’s been an incredible one for great talent. But I do get tired of some of the answers people give when they say they’re ‘different’. We say: ‘But how are you different?’ And they just reply ‘I’m different.’ Come up with a better answer!
How do you pick a winner?
You actually know straight away from instinct if they’re going to get through or not. Sometimes we put acts through to wind Simon up, but by the time you get to the final, you know that you’re left with the very best talent.
Do you watch yourself back on BGT? Do you find that weird?
Oh gosh! I’ve never actually watched myself all the way through – it’s too weird. Sometimes Simon will say to me: ‘Oh, did you see that this happened?’ and I have to tell him: ‘No darling, I haven’t watched it.’ He’s looking at it from a producer’s perspective, though.
Does your whole family watch you on the show?
Yes, and my daughter Lexi is already working out what to wear when she comes to watch the live shows and which friends to bring! Hollie’s finally old enough to come this year. How cool is it to be able to bring your kids to work with you? Very.
Do your children think you’re
a cool mum or do they get embarrassed now that they’re getting older?
No, they really love the show and Lexi and her friends will often tell me what they think about the acts at the school gates. They’ve grown up with me doing it.
What does your husband think of the show?
He really likes it. In fact, he proudly pointed out to me that BGT is even mentioned on Wikipedia as a show that’s made its mark on British culture. It’s phenomenal. When I do the live shows, the first thing I do when I sit down is check to see whether Chris has given a thumbs-up or thumbs-down to my outfit!
Does he ever give you a
Well, sometimes he does have something to say!
The show’s been criticised
for scouting out some of the acts – do you think that it makes it less genuine?
The word ‘scouted’ is an interesting one because actually now, in terms of social media – Instagram, Twitter, Facebook – there’s so much out there. Before social media, people would send in videotapes of themselves to talent shows and now social media has replaced tapes as a way to showcase yourself. That’s the changing world we live in now. I do think you have to look globally and everywhere. You have to cast the net wide.
Tell us about your golden buzzer act Daliso…
It was left field for me to go for a comedian, but I just thought he was really cool. I pressed my buzzer for a Malawian comic – I can’t imagine anybody else in the world being able to say that!
Have you ever regretted putting someone through?
Yes, sometimes you do regret letting somebody through. But it doesn’t matter because as I said earlier, the best talent does always surface to the top. Let’s remember it’s about having fun, after all. It’s a fun entertainment show.
You always look amazing. Do you have to work hard to stay in such great shape?
Thank you! I’m actually in a West End show at the moment so that’s a great workout by any normal standards. But I have been doing some extra yoga, too, to tone up.
Have you chosen your
outfits for the live shows yet?
I’ve been having some fittings and meetings with my stylist. I like to get my dresses made, so you do have to plan ahead. I start sending pictures quite early on of things I’ve spotted on Instagram and liked. It’s good for ideas.
Your outfits are incredible. Have you ever tripped up or fallen over on stage?
Touch wood, not yet! But Simon did skid on my frock behind the scenes last year. He skidded on the train behind it! Thankfully nobody saw, but I did post a picture afterwards on my Instagram for a laugh.
Do you have any pre-show rituals you all do together?
To be honest, it all goes so quickly when we’re all getting ready that there isn’t much time. Simon arrives all ready for the show and quite near to when it starts. It’s all quite a rush getting our hair and make-up done.
Will you be going out on the town after the final for a few drinks with Simon, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams?
We normally have a party at the Dorchester Hotel in London after the final, but this year we’re filming in Elstree, which is quite far out, so I’m not sure what we’re doing yet. We do all like to hang out in each other’s dressing rooms afterwards.
You all get on famously well. Who’s been the cheekiest judge this year?
Simon normally likes to play pranks on us, but he’s just been so zen this year, so we haven’t been playing quite as many jokes this time. David, Alesha and Simon are just so brilliant and I just love the fact that we get on so well.
It sounds like you have lots of fun backstage. How has the show changed your life?
I’m so chuffed to have been part of such a phenomenal show. It’s a dream and I never take anything for granted. I’ve been blessed and it’s changed my life in a huge way for the better. I look at my daughter Lexi, who’s 11 now. She is the embodiment of all that time spent on the show, which is incredible. Amazing.
And finally, can you believe how big the show has
The ratings this year have been really good. It’s been the most watched show in the UK so far this year. It’s perfect for the whole family and I’m getting so excited now about the live shows. It’s the one thing that goes in my diary a year in advance!
Britain’s Got Talent continues on ITV at 8pm on Saturday 27 May, with the live semi-finals kicking off on Monday 29 May