Cowell's galactic ambition

Scientists had thought it impossible: catching water in a net; making Coldplay interesting; Simon Cowell showing humility. And yet the great impresario almost seemed to have reined in his ego when looking back on a difficult 2011.

Viewing figures fell for the jowly genius of hate-yourself-for-watching television. "I got too cocky," said Cowell. "We went into 2011 thinking 'It's all going to be easy' and of course it wasn't. It was the year my ego was put in check."

That’s a bold claim, and we’ll need a little more evidence before we are convinced. With X Factor happily on ice until the autumn, the man with the gelled centre-parting focuses on the freak show, sorry showcase for all-round gifted entertainers that is Britain’s Got Talent.

It seems Cowell has been listening to viewer feedback. We have all sat on our sofas and wished that some of the BGT acts could be blasted into space. That is exactly what Cowell is now promising. In association with another shy and retiring media type Richard Branson, Cowell hopes that the winner will be on board Branson’s inaugural Virgin Galactic launch.

Cowell explained: "We are trying to work out a way so that the winner of the show gets to go up in the spacecraft and will be the first person to perform in space.

Cowell might even pull on a space-suit himself. Imagine the live broadcast, with Cowell’s terrifying face cackling out from the screen saying "Bow, puny earthlings to my demands, or I’m releasing a new Joe McElderry album."

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