Soon after Loveable Rogues admitted show bosses had hand-picked them to appear in front of the judges, bypassing the first round of auditions, it came to light synchronised swimming act, Aquabatique had also been pinpointed by producers to go straight to the televised rounds.

Zoe Cooper, 28, Emily Kuhl, 22, Beth Smith, 22, and 23-year-old Jazmine Stanberry’s performance in a human-sized fish tank stunned the judges, with Cowell describing the act as “like being in a human aquarium”

The swimmers had already made several professional appearances, including at judge David Walliams’ wedding to model Lara Stone.

Britain’s Got Talent producers had merely seen their showreel and pushed them through to audition for the judges –  Cowell, Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams –  on camera.

Other acts are required to send in an application, then perform in front of producers, who decide whether to send them through to audition for the judges on camera.

A source from Britain’s Got Talent denied the fixing rumours, insisting “all the acts go through the same judging process”.

The source added: “The judges decide who go through and they’re not aware of how contestants have come to be at the auditions.

 “A large number of people were aware of the auditions and applied in the usual manner.  

 “However, we cast our net wider this year to make people aware of the auditions. Before the auditions, our researchers discovered talented acts through many routes, including word of mouth, internet searches and open auditions.

 “Hundreds of acts are informed about auditions, but many do not get past producers or judges auditions.”

 Bookies have put singers Jonathan Antoine and Charlotte Jaconelli as the favourites to win Britain’s Got Talent with 4/6 odds. Asheleigh Butler and her dancing dog Pudsey are just behind with odds at 5/2.

A show spokesman insisted they had not been favoured by producers.

He said: “To ensure we leave no stone unturned in our search for the best talent, we let people know about auditions in lots of ways – from ads in local papers to fliers distributed at festivals. 

“As part of this normal process, we may inform some acts about the auditions. These acts still have to apply and go through the same process as every other act. All acts are auditioned on their own merits and the judges then decide who goes through to the live shows.”

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