Ant and Dec pop into Belfast's Duke of York pub as Britain's Got Talent cameras start rolling
Belfast is setting the standard for Britain's Got Talent in 2014, according to Newcastle's most famous TV comedy duo.
As they prepared for the first of this year's auditions, Ant and Dec claimed the city was raising the bar for the rest of the UK's hopefuls.
The chirpy pair said they had been itching to bring the show to Belfast for a number of years. Now their wish has come true as the BGT cameras started rolling here for the first time yesterday.
Pop mogul Simon Cowell will be centre stage at the Waterfront Hall today as judge for the auditions. But for Ant and Dec, the trip to Belfast was long overdue.
"We've been badgering the production team for years to come to Northern Ireland and do the auditions and we've finally got here," Dec – whose father was from Draperstown in Co Londonderry – told UTV.
Ant said it was great to be here at last, and laughed that he had spent a few hours in the Duke of York pub in the heart of the Cathedral Quarter.
"There'll be some good acts, there'll be some average acts and there'll be a lot of bad acts," Ant said while supping on a pint of Guinness.
"Oh, there'll be some awful acts," Dec quickly added.
The singers, dancers and wacky acts stepping on stage could win a once-in-a-lifetime chance to perform for the Queen at the Royal Variety Show.
Dec made sure the locals knew what was at stake. "Belfast is going to set the level for Britain's Got Talent in 2014 – it's over to you Belfast!"
Meanwhile, social media sites were full of colourful messages about the pair.
On Twitter, one fan wrote: "Little Brother just came in from his school trip and said he met Ant and Dec today."
Another added: "Wahooooo, Ant and Dec are in Belfast!!!! :-D"
Cowell sent out his own message to all the BGT hopefuls.
"This year I want you bigger and better than before," he said.
"We want the sensational, the original, and, of course, the best.
"I want something I've never seen before."
Joining him on the judging panel is comedian, actor and children's author David Walliams, actress Amanda Holden and singer Alesha Dixon.
Holden said she can't wait to see what Belfast has to offer.
"So looking forward to the start of BGT Belfast! This Saturday!" she wrote on Twitter. Meanwhile, former girl band and Strictly Come Dancing judge Alesha wrote: "Can't wait to see my BGT family tomorrow x."
After Belfast the judges will scout for talent in Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester and finally London.
Last year's Britain's Got Talent winners were Hungarian shadow dance group Attraction.
Britain's Got Talent is one of the UK's best loved performing shows which shines the limelight on all sorts of skills – from musicians and ventriloquists to even gifted animals. Londonderry's Jordan O'Keefe made the final of last year's contest where he was beaten by Hungarian shadow dance group Attraction.