Pudsey the dog's got talent

Simon Cowell’s hypnotic grip on the bizarre tastes of the British viewing public remains impressive. The latest series of Britain’s Got Talent was won by a dancing dog – and still managed to pull in ITV’s biggest audience of the year, with an average of 11.4 million viewers.

The show was won by 17 year-old Ashleigh Butler and her performing pooch Pudsey. Cowell, who tends to prefer bland singers to win his shows, put a brave face on the result of the public vote, no doubt cheered up by the excellent viewing figures for the final.

"I adore both of you," he told the winners, although the dog didn’t appear to be listening. "You have got better and better as the competition has progressed and to do what you did in such a short time is a miracle." The winners took the £500,000 first prize, beating the early favourites Jonathan and Charlotte, who made the mistake of not including their pets in the act.

It has been a tough year for BGT as it tried to head off the challenge from the BBC’s The Voice, eventually having to retreat by changing its broadcast time. The final was an impressive comeback, outscoring the BBC show in audience share.

Peter Fincham, ITV’s director of television was happy, and glossed over the difficulties. "2012 has been an amazing series," he said, "with an incredibly high calibre of acts, culminating in a really special final. We are delighted that viewers tuned in in their millions to watch Ashleigh and Pudsey be crowned this year's winner."

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