Video: Simon Cowell: I’m going to blast Britain’s Got Talent winner into space
SIMON Cowell has revealed plans to offer the winner of this year's Britain's Got Talent the chance to perform in space.
The media mogul said he is in talks with Sir Richard Branson, who is sponsoring the show, about blasting the next champion into orbit with Sir Richard's space venture Virgin Galactic.
According to reports, Cowell said: "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 said the experience would not be compulsory for the winner, but that Sir Richard would cough up the "tens of millions" of pounds the dream prize is worth.
He added: "I will make it happen. If it had been a few years ago Susan Boyle could have been singing Unchained Melody in front of the whole planet."
Cowell also plans to go on the spaceship himself.
Auditions begin today for the sixth series of the ITV1 talent show, which is returning with a revamped judging panel.
Comedian David Walliams and former Strictly Come Dancing judge Alesha Dixon will take their places on the panel for the first time.
They will be joined by veteran judge Amanda Holden and by Cowell, who was only on the panel during the live shows last year.
In his interview, Cowell admitted he became "a bit too cocky" after a successful year in 2010, but in 2011 his "ego was put in check".
Last year saw ratings fall for Britain's Got Talent, fewer viewers than Cowell had predicted for the US version of the X Factor, and his gameshow Red Or Black? mired in controversy after it emerged the first millionaire it created had been jailed for attacking a woman.
The British version of the X Factor was also regularly beaten in the ratings by its BBC1 rival Strictly Come Dancing.
Cowell told reporters: "We went into 2011 thinking, 'It's all going to be easy' and of course it wasn't. It was a massive wake-up call."
He admitted to "unbelievable rivalry" between his shows and the BBC, and said his decision to "poach" Dixon from the dance talent show was "70-30 on the fact she was on Strictly and the fact I liked her".
Cowell added that last year's Britain's Got Talent judging line-up, which featured Holden, David Hasselhoff and Michael McIntyre, did not do "a good enough job", but that he was feeling optimistic about the year ahead.