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'Britain's Got Talent' review: Show Bears, wheelchairs and Hope

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It's not been the best of weeks for Simon Cowell, has it? His decision with ITV to call an end to the Britain's Got Talent/Voice UK scheduling war is tantamount to waving a white flag for many, an acceptance that his once-dominant show has fallen from grace.

So it should come as no surprise that tonight's episode of BGT pulled out all the stops in a bid to prove itself from the outset. The intros have been pretty elaborate already this series, but this week's opener was the most dramatic yet - borrowing what sounded like the booming Inception soundtrack to score clips of judges vowing that they will honestly, definitely find a worldwide superstar.

But BGT is too set in its ways now, and after all that bluster the first act of the night was one more appropriate for Butlins, Bognor Regis than Madison Square Garden. Enter The Show Bears, a song and dance collective that can be summarised as '4 Poofs and a Piano in sparkly sailor outfits'. They were here to wow the judges with a performance of 'It's Sailor Men' (think 'It's Raining Men') and some fabulous prancing about.

The Showbears

© ITV



The Bears are a classic Britain's Got Talent act - technically crap, but absolutely brimming with personality. You may tut at their talk of 'poop decks' and 'seaman' at the beginning of the audition, but by the end there's a good chance you'll be singing into your hairbrush and wiggling about with them.

Only Cowell pressed his buzzer, but that's probably because he couldn't be seen enjoying it too much. He's a man made of stone - The Show Bears were easily one of the most entertaining acts of the series, due in part to David Walliams joining them on stage for a repeat performance and deadpanning "To be honest, it wasn't really my thing" come vote time. I laughed out loud at that line. It was hilarious stuff and everyone there - the panellists, the crowd and especially Walliams - were clearly having the time of their lives.

Also tickling the funny bone was 16-year-old Essex girl Hope Murphy and her wisecracking mother, whose advice mainly revolved around bum-wiping. She's a real Stacey Solomon type, delightfully ditzy in the wings but confident on stage - she was barely phased when Cowell cut off her original audition song a few seconds in and demanded another. By the way, the song he found so repulsive was 'Mama Knows Best' by Jessie J of The Voice, but we're sure it's nothing personal.

Hope

© ITV



Hope does actually have a surprisingly thick and luxurious voice, one that captures the haunting notes of her back-up track 'This Woman's Work' with ease. Simon's aiming high with this series, so the deployment of an Adele tune as she received four yeses seemed like a big wink to what he wants her to become. The similarities are sort of there - curvaceous, London accent, big voice. It'll take some doing but... maybe...

With Hope followed by the mellow tones of Paige Turley (how is she only 14?) the singers ended up dominating for yet another week. It's looking more and more likely that we'll see one triumph this year, in which case don't be surprised to see the Voice/BGT rivalry rear its head again in the form of a chart battle.

Paige

© ITV



That other BGT staple, the street dance group, made an appearance this episode too. United We Stand ticked all of Cowell's boxes - they namechecked the Diamond Jubilee, had a heartwarming backstory worthy of an '80s movie (they'd use their winnings to build a community centre) and on top of that were pretty darn good. They even convinced Carmen Electra to break her vow of silence. I'm not sure I'd agree with Cowell's assessment of them as the next Diversity - but his prediction that they'll be in the final seemed plausible enough.

The offbeats though weren't going down without a fight, and we saw some some nice original acts shine - like Hungarian basketball tricksters Face Team. These guys had ball-handling skills to rival The Show Bears, and while they flipped through the air slam-dunking you kind of realised that this is where Britain's Got Talent proves its worth.

The group have travelled all this way because BGT still is the best place in the world to showcase mightily impressive skills like this on a grand scale. Where else are they going to go? They're fond of a boogie, sure, but Davina wouldn't allow basketballs on Got To Dance, would she?

Strictly Wheels

© ITV



Then there's the heart of this week's episode, Strictly Wheels - a ballroom partnership where one of the dancers just happens to be in a wheelchair. These two probably wouldn't receive tens from Len Goodman's lot, but it was something pretty unique that clearly had a lot of effort put into it - and that's become a bit of a rarity after six series. Who could grumble at watching that?

Of course there were the usual bunch of fools, and this week we saw Cowell deploy that classic trick of making one particular city seem like it is completely devoid of talent. Rest assured Edinburgh, we know that you've got more to offer than Rocky Horror transvestites and kazookulele players. Oh, and Morphsuit-wearing bagpipers... what was that all about anyhow? Did they decide to audition part way through a stag do?

So, another standard Britain's Got Talent episode there, full of fun acts, cheery moments and a few fruitcakes to have a guilty laugh at. Did this week feature that global phenomenon we've repeatedly been promised? Um... probably not. Did we have a lot of fun, though? Hell yes!

> Britain's Got Talent show four: Show Bears, transvestites - pictures
> David Walliams joins Show Bears on BGT stage for 'Raining Men' - vid

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