Britain's Got Talent: Amanda Holden defends child contestants appearing on ITV reality show
Britain's Got Talent presenter Amanda Holden has insisted it is the responsibility of parents to decide if their children can handle the pressure of the competition - not the judges.
The ITV talent contest has often been embroiled in debates over whether young children can fairly be put in the spotlight to compete against others on live television.
But the 44-year-old mother-of-two said she firmly believes children should be allowed to take part, adding that they are "outshining" the adults this year.
"You have to rely on the fact the parents know their children so well that they feel they're strong enough to be there," she told the Sunday Express.
"At the end of the day, it's down to the parents and not us, but there are gentle ways of letting children down.
"I absolutely believe they should be able to take part, though, because there are so many talented youngsters. In fact, this year, they've been outshining the adults."
The new series of the show began last night, with Holden judging alongside Simon Cowell, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams.
She said that Cowell is a "natural" at fatherhood, who "encourages naughtiness and misbehaviour".
"I don't think there will be any rules in that house", she said.
The actress has her sights set on returning to drama once her youngest daughter has started school but in the meantime is concentrating on presenting, with the launch of a new show Give A Pet A Home on ITV later this month.