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Britain's Got Talent 2014: Sneak peak at the first auditions show

light balance

Britain’s Got Talent is back with a new twist tonight, as a fresh batch of weird and wonderful acts hope they have what it takes to make the judges hit the shiny golden buzzer.

Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams are on hand once more to sift the good from the garbage as the eighth series of the talent contest gets underway.

However, this year, nestled among their individual red buzzers – which they can use to force an act off stage – is a brand new golden buzzer.

This gives the foursome the power to send lucky hopefuls straight through to the live shows without any further discussion. They must be careful though, as they’re only allowed to hit it once each.

Tonight’s episode kicks off with BGT’s first ever ‘owl agility’ act, Andrew Charlton and Rocky the owl, whose, er, messy routine has the audience chuckling.

They set a bizarre tone that’s continued by Sean Wozencroft – who attempts to beat the world record for eating a raw onion – and 29-year-old office worker and budding dancer Luke Joseph.

BGT - Birmingham - Day 2

But just as you begin to wonder whether Britain really has still got talent, there’s two considerably more impressive performances from energetic line dancing troupe CountryVive, and five-strong boyband Collabro, who wow with their rendition of ‘Stars’ from Les Miserables – despite having only been together for a month.

Of course, after Attraction shadow danced their way to victory in last year’s series, there’s just as much interest from around the world.

‘The Jerome Experience’ – a.k.a. 47-year-old Frenchman Jerome, who now lives in Oxford – plays the drums in a giant hamster wheel-style contraption that turns him upside down, while American-born cabaret act Mzz Kimberley – now residing in London – skates around the stage in a Wonder Woman costume while singing Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’.

Then there’s Peter Panduranga and Giorgio the ‘King Of Karaoke’, who travelled all the way from Germany and Greece respectively to share their talents with us Brits.

Meanwhile, representing Ukraine are 18 to 30-year-old dance group Light Balance, who will no doubt draw comparisons to Attraction for their technology-infused light show, which they perform in pitch blackness.

Next up are a trio of singers – Samantha Conors, Nadine Lyons and Lucy Kay – who suffer from nervousness and struggle to keep their cool in front of the judges.

But there’s no such problem for the final two contestants of the night, who are duos from opposite ends of the dance spectrum.

BGT - Birmingham - Day 2

Schoolkids Lauren and Terrell – both just twelve years old – show off their street dancing skills, before 79-year-old retired dental nurse Paddy and her 39-year-old Spanish dance teacher Nico surprise everyone with a host of action-packed tricks.

Tune in to ITV tonight at 7.15pm to find out who wins over the judges – and whether they’ll hit the golden buzzer.

Browse pictures of tonight’s auditions below…