If you’re a citizen of Earth, chances are you’ve heard of the Got Talent franchise. After all, the talent show series currently holds the Guinness World Record for being the world’s most successful reality TV format having been commissioned in 58 different countries. From Afghanistan to Vietnam, Got Talent has managed to become a staple in pop culture. But how did it all start?
Britain’s Got Talent… and Simon Cowell
Developed by British entrepreneur Simon Cowell, Got Talent aims to showcase and reward talented members of society.
Although the USA would become the first country to air a full season Got Talent, the original pilot was actually aired in the United Kingdom back in 2005, featuring comedian Paul O’Grady. Unfortunately, when O’Grady left ITV, the British version of Got Talent was postponed and so Cowell decided to move the show across to the United States.
The first episode of America’s Got Talent appeared on NBC on June 21, 2006, featuring David Hasselhoff, Brandy Norwood and Piers Morgan as judges. There have been numerous changes made throughout the twelve seasons of the show, but winners are still rewarded with $1 million and the chance to headline on the Las Vegas Strip. Surprisingly, the US wasn’t the only country to embrace this new format before the UK, as France, Greece, Portugal, Russia and Sweden all aired their Got Talent shows before Summer 2007.
Meanwhile, back in the UK, the initial success of AGT had encouraged ITV to bring Britain’s Got Talent back and on June 9 2007 the show finally debuted. The judges in this first season were none other than Simon Cowell himself, Piers Morgan and Amanda Holden, though David Hasselhoff, Michael McIntyre, David Williams and Alesha Dixon would all become full-time judges in later seasons. Winners of the British show are expected to perform at the Royal Variety Show in front of the Royal family and are currently awarded £250,000.
Britain’s Got Talent was so popular that in addition to the original show, ITV decided to commission a companion series named Britain’s Got More Talent, which follows the behind-the-scenes action at the show. In 2008, BGT began running live tours featuring the public’s favourite acts and by the late 2000s fans could purchase DVDs, electronic board games, magic sets and numerous other pieces of official merchandise.
Even now, ten years after the show first aired, modern industries are continuing to adopt the franchise. Since 2010, smartphone users have been able to download the official BGT app to play along with the show, while fans that play online bingo at William Hill may have noticed the official Britain’s Got Talent bingo slot game. It’s part of a larger trend for themed, licensed games, which also includes the Deal or No Deal bingo room and Batman slots at the same online casino.
The Planet’s Got Talent
Soon after BGT re-launched in the UK, Cowell’s company SYCOtv commissioned versions to even more regions until eventually 30% of the countries on Earth had their own Got Talent series. There have been almost 300 different Got Talent winners so far, including viral sensations Britain’s Susan Boyle, Holland’s Amira Willighagen and America’s 10-year-old singing sensation Jackie Evancho.
Of course, artistic disciplines other than singing have been showcased throughout the Got Talent series too. SIMA, a Syrian dancing troupe, were hugely popular on Arabs Got Talent, while circus performers, sand painters, jugglers, crystal ball dancers, illusionists and other artists have all showcased their work.
Needless to say, Got Talent is an incredibly successful series that is sure to remain a staple in popular culture for many years to come. Unlike its talent-show predecessors, Got Talent brings people with all sorts of different backgrounds and abilities together, uniting us all in an unprecedented way.