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Britain’s Got Talent judges praise Manchester Arena survivor

Britain's Got Talent judges (left-right) David Walliams, Alesha Dixon, Simon Cowell and Amanda Holden Image copyright Syco/Thames/ITV
Image caption Britain’s Got Talent returns for a 12th series this weekend

Britain’s Got Talent’s judges have praised a 13-year-old girl who was injured in the Manchester Arena attack, and who will perform a dance routine to Ariana Grande songs on the new series.

Hollie Booth survived the attack last May, but her aunt Kelly Brewster died.

Hollie will be seen performing a routine with friends in Saturday’s series opener on ITV.

Simon Cowell said: “I thought it was respectful, it was one of those moments I will never, ever forget.”

Brewster, 32, from Sheffield, was among the 22 people who died in the bombing after an Ariana Grande concert.

Image copyright South Yorkshire Police/PA
Image caption Kelly Brewster shielded niece Hollie and sister Claire, who were both hurt

Hollie returned to Manchester in February for the audition. The routine is performed to a medley of Ariana Grande songs and features her friends in borrowed wheelchairs in a show of support.

Cowell said: “God only knows how she dealt with that at her age, the effect it must still have. The fact that she got together with a bunch of friends and did something, more than just an act, it was a statement.

“It showed that the cowards can’t win and that she overcame it.

“To come back in front of a theatre, and think about that for a moment, after everything she’s been through – and in Manchester – you just have to go, ‘Respect’.

“I saw the friendship and their bond. I was so happy that they trusted us enough to come on our show. It was a good thing.”

‘It’s bigger than the show’

Fellow judge Alesha Dixon said the judges were moved to tears.

“I tried to keep it together, by the end we were smiling and happy crying,” she said. “I’ve never experienced that on the show.”

Dixon added: “For me that audition was bigger than the show. That’s the only way to describe the magnitude of what she’s been through and the moment of her performing on the show. It felt bigger than us.

“It was one of those moments where everyone is humbled. Everybody kind of gets lost in the reality of how cruel the world can be.”

BGT presenter Ant McPartlin appears in the pre-recorded footage of the new series but it’s unclear whether he will host as usual during the live shows alongside Declan Donnelly

Ant recently returned to rehab and stepped down from work commitments following a drink-driving charge.

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