Variety performer Steve Royle has received the first standing ovation of the Britain’s Got Talent final, although head judge Simon Cowell remains absent.
Ten acts are competing for a £250,000 prize, as well as a spot on the bill at the Royal Variety Performance.
Royle, a 52-year-old comedian from Chorley, performed a routine to Lust For Life by Iggy Pop.
Referring to comments attributed to the Chancellor about the cultural sector amid the coronavirus pandemic, he quipped: “If Rishi Sunak is watching this. Some of us can’t possibly be retrained.”
He received a standing ovation from the judging panel of David Walliams, Alesha Dixon, Ashley Banjo and Amanda Holden
Banjo said: “I feel like I have watched an entire show. I think it is impossible for you to come out here and not look funny and polished.”
Walliams added: “You are like all the best comedians rolled into one.”
Holden is standing in as head judge for Cowell as he recovers from a back injury, after falling off an electric bike he was testing at his house in Malibu.
Dancing duo Aaron and Jasmine; magician Magical Bones; comedy singer and performer Jon Courtenay; and stand-up comedian Nabil Abdulrashid are competing in the final after winning the judges’ votes during the semi-finals.
Five other finalists were voted through by the public.
They were announced at the start of the episode as father and son magic duo James and Dylan Piper; magician Damien O’Brien; choir Sign Along With Us; and magicians Jasper Cherry and Aidan McCann.
All 10 acts pre-recorded their performances the night before for safety reasons – but the winner, who is chosen by the public, will be announced live.
Ant and Dec kicked off the final on ITV, explaining that some acts had created “bubbles” ahead of their final performances.
McCann, an 11-year-old magician from Ireland, was first to perform.
He impressed Walliams with a card trick before inviting him on stage for another stunt, promising to “dive deeper into your mind”.
Dancers Aaron, 28, and Jasmine, 32, from London were second on stage for a dramatic performance combining modern Latin and ballroom with acrobatic tricks.
Holden said their performance was “extremely polished” and that it made her “really miss” theatres while they remained closed due to coronavirus restrictions.
Magician Damien O’Brien, 35, from London, was the next contestant to take to the stage.
He involved Amanda Holden in a trick, asking her to choose a card from a deck, after sanitising her hands, before making it appear inside her phone case.
O’Brien then appeared to make her phone transform into a pile of polaroid photos, before it reappeared.
Afterwards, Holden said: “We say it all the time, it is so frustrating, I have got absolutely no idea how you did that.”
Banjo said only: “I have seen a lot of magic. I had goosebumps at the end.”
The final continues on ITV.