Singers, dancers and synchronised swimmers bowed to a pet called Pudsey last night as Britain decided it found nothing more entertaining than seeing a teenage girl and her dog dancing on its hind legs to the sound of the Mission Impossible theme tune.
The six-year-old cross between a collie, bichon frisé and Chinese crested powder puff, turned on the aaww factor as he leapt across Simon Cowell's desk during the final of the relentlessly popular talent show Britain's Got Talent. Cowell, the top dog in this talent show lark, leant back in his chair afterwards and said: "I think he is going to be the most famous dog in the world... Pudsey was the people's favourite."
The other half of the act, Ashleigh Butler, 17, overcome with emotion said: "I'm just so proud of Pudsey." As part of the routine, she led the dog around the carpeted stage, whispering in his ear and giving him a piggy back over her shoulder. She (and the dog) take home £500,000 (not dog biccies) and will now appear at the Royal Variety Performance.
The Queen, as we know, is more of a dog person than a lover of cats. Yesterday's final brought the sixth series of BGT to a climax, after its familiar offerings of lads with guitars singing aching ballads about lost romances, surprise operatic voices to make judge Amanda Holden's jaw drop and dance troupes almost too big for the stage. Sticking to form, all of the finalists agreed that this meant everything to them, although they were also just happy to be there. In second place was the operatic duo Jonathan and Charlotte, just teenagers themselves at 17 and 16, while third went to the Welsh choir, Only Boys Aloud.
In meant no podium place for Aquabatique, four female synchronised swimmers who took the show into the car park to perform a routine in a portable tank. They were passed over for a place in the British team for the Olympics, and there was no medal here for them either. Loveable Rogues, a trio of trendy singers who caused the familiar midweek talent show tabloid controversies with a story about how they may, or may not, have been invited to take part rather than properly audition among the 70,000 initial entrants, also failed to post in the top three.
Pudsey, however, must keep his paws on the ground. A win on final night does not guarantee longevity in showbiz. Last year's winner, Jai McDowall – remember him? Scottish guy? Tall? Singer? – could only scrape to 54 in the charts when he released "Believe" on the back of his victory at the end of last year. Selling little more than 11,000 copies, he was dropped by Sony. He partly blamed his anti-climactic post-BGT career on what he said was a lack of support from Cowell.
After six series and the best efforts of the dance act Diversity, the best-known past contestant remains a runner-up: Susan Boyle in 2009, who proved popular on both sides of the Atlantic. There may just be hope for those synchronised swimmers yet.