Simon Cowell has detailed the difficult decision to axe Britain's Got Talent last year amid the Covid pandemic lockdown in the UK.
The reality TV supremo said he had become nervous about making the show as a new variant began to sweep across Europe and pulled the plug just weeks before auditions were due to begin.
But Cowell will reunite with judges Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams and hosts Ant and Dec when the show returns this weekend.
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He said: "As much as I didn’t want to not make the show last year, we just couldn’t at that point, it would have been literally impossible.
"We had to stop it at the last moment, it was a difficult decision to make but it was the right one.
"I think off the back of that, when we did all get back together, I think we realised how much we enjoy making the show. We did miss each other, we get on and work well together."
He added: "It was hard but I’ve got to be honest, because of what was happening at the time, which was the new variant had come out, I got really nervous about it.
"We were about two or three weeks out from auditions and I just thought, 'We can’t do this, the risk to everyone is too high’.
"So it was tough, but I knew it was the right thing to do because it wasn’t like the show was never going to come back.
"We always knew it would come back this year and it would come round quickly, which it did.
"So I missed it but I had no choice. I hope that break, having not had it on air for a year, that the audience will like it even more, I hope they missed it."
Cowell added he was overjoyed to interact with a live audience again, saying: "It’s just the best feeling.
"You don’t realise how important the audience is until you don’t have one. Then having them back was incredible. It’s really hard to make this show without an audience.
"We always say they are the fifth judge, they really are because a lot of the time we base our decision on the audience, when they love someone we’re more inclined to say yes, when they’re quiet we’re more inclined to say no.
"So they really do hold a lot of power on this show.
"There’s something special watching and feeling the audience reaction to an act when they realise they are seeing something special," he added. "It’s the best feeling."
Britain’s Got Talent returns to Virgin Media One and ITV on Saturday April 16 at 8pm.