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We were lucky enough to be part of the virtual audience for the recording of the second semi-final of Britain's Got Talent 2020 tonight (Sunday 30th August).
Once we had signed in with our unique code, we entered the virtual waiting room. We were shown a 30-minute programme, narrated by Ant & Dec, which showcased some of the most watched BGT auditions on YouTube and Facebook.
Then, we were greeted by Andy, the brilliant warm-up guy, whose job it is entertain the audience when the production team are not recording. He took us through the format and how everything works, whilst entertaining us with music and games to play as home. Eventually, we got round to the show. First to be recorded (twice!) was McFly's guest performance of 'It's all about you' as a tribute to the NHS. The second part of their performance was their new single Happiness. This saw hundreds of balloons descend on the stage whilst we at home were encouraged to get balloons of our own to display on our cameras.
When the McFly's performance had finished, Ant & Dec came on to do the "Now time for some music" link into McFly's performance. In the meantime, dozens of crew jumped on stage and started to pop the balloons. Other links were also recorded, sometimes more than once, for other parts of the show. The beginning of the show then started, with a VT from Ant & Dec backstage. Two stunt-doubles burst onto stage doing back flips etc as "Ant & Dec". The real Ant & Dec then had to get in the exact ending position of their stunt-doubles to being the show.
Then, as is seen on TV, we were introduced to each act, watched their VTs, performances and the judges comments.
Ant & Dec are in a bubble, so do not need to social distance from each other. The judges are sat on individual tables, each with their red buzzer - although these were not used during this recording. Between each act there was a small gap whilst the crew prepared the stage and their prop(s). Andy kept us entertained with scavenger hunts and various other games - "You have 30 seconds to find something in your house beginning with the letter.." During the finals, some acts pre-recorded their performance earlier in the week. This is because of restrictions on the number of people who can be on stage at any one time. Some members of the act then appeared via video to speak to the judges. Also, around two thirds of the way through the show, Ant & Dec recorded an acceptance speech for Saturday Night Takeaway winning a TV Choice award for Best Entertainment Show. What you won't see is the pair of them rehearsing what they're going to say, picking the right section of stage to do it on and who should hold the award.
During one magic act, the magician asked Amanda for a "significant date in her life". She chose the year, but didn't know an exact date, so she Googled herself and went on her Wikipedia to find the date this particular event in her life happened. In the end, she couldn't find it gave an estimated date. Throughout the show, Ant & Dec record 'pick-ups', these are links which can be used as backup for the original, maybe they say something slightly different, say a different time phrase or perform the link in a different way. It was revealed during recording that over 100,000 people has applied for this recording. Some of which were still in the virtual holding room. When someone unexpectedly dropped out from the audience, they were automatically replaced by somebody from the holding room. Once all the acts had performed, the judges decided their top three favourites. Each act was then told by Ant & Dec whether they were in the top three or in the public vote.
Then, each judge gave the name of the act they want to send through to the final. In the event of a tie, Amanda has the casting vote as acting head judge.
Ant & Dec then announce that the "Vote is now... open!" - and remains so until the following Monday at 10am, meaning the vote is open for roughly 36 hours. Viewers are able to vote by phone, text or for free via the BGT app.
Ant & Dec confirmed the live final will take place on Saturday 10th October. The results of the votes will remain secret until then.
Britain's Got Talent airs every Saturday on ITV.