The talent show boasted a 47% share last night as series eight got under way with laughs, tears and an owl act.
Andrew Charlton, 53, from Lincolnshire and his owl Rocky had hoped to repeat the success of series winners Ashleigh and Pudsey, but left the judges less than impressed with their agility act with Amanda Holden telling him: “You’re like a very old, unmagical Harry Potter.“
More impressive were five-piece boyband Collabro whose version of Stars from Les Miserables won them a standing ovation, with Holden describing them as “bloody brilliant“.
Judges also took to 79-year-old grandmother Paddy Jones, who danced her way into the live shows with her salsa partner Nico Espinosa, 40,
And soprano Lucy Kay, 25, had them all in tears after she revealed she had been forced to move from England to Scotland to escape bullies.
The show’s international appeal was confirmed with acts from as far afield as Ukraine, Greece and the United States all auditioning.