BRITAIN’S Got Talent: The Champions viewers were in floods of tears tonight as former winner Ashleigh Butler returned to the series with new dog Sully, two years after her beloved pooch Pudsey passed away.
The 24-year old dog trainer and her talented new Pudsey lookalike wowed the judges and audience with their routine, which was performed to Mary Poppins’ song A Spoonful of Sugar.
But fans were in tears even before the performance as Ashleigh remembered her late pet in the VT that introduced her.
Recalling her final moments with Pudsey, who passed away from leukemia in 2017, she revealed: “He looked at me and nodded his head; that was him saying goodbye.”
She went onto to say that Sully, who is a cross-breed of a Chinese crested powderpuff, border collie and poodle, was “like a brother to Pudsey” and that winning BGT: The Champions with Sully “would be everything.”
Viewers shared their emotions on twitter as the programme aired.
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Ashleigh took to the stage dressed in a Mary Poppins-inspired ensemble, including a blue coat with paw prints on it, a white shirt with a red bow and a matching red hat.
Sully then ran onto the bedroom set and launched into a series to tricks to Ashleigh’s commands.
These included dashing between Ashleigh’s legs, walking on his hind legs and performing several spins and jumps to the music.
The judging panel – Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams – were seriously impressed.
The pair are the first act to kick off the new series, which invites several winners, finalists and notable participants from previous series of the global Got Talent franchises.
Ashleigh and Pudsey became an instant hit with viewers when they scooped the 2012 Britain’s Got Talent crown in series six of the ITV show.
Following their BGT success they went on to do a Pudsey movie and also theatre shows across the UK.
Pudsey competed in his last Crufts competition in March 2017, and Ashleigh got teary eyed as her dog, full name Pudsey Bear, completed his final run.
The Sun revealed on July 21, 2017, that Pudsey the dog had died aged 11.
Ashleigh announced the sad news via Instagram, saying she was “heartbroken” to say goodbye.
“I can’t honestly believe I am writing these words. My handsome man has gone, and I don’t know what to do without him.
“My heart is broken, and I don’t know how I’m going to get through this. It hurts so much, that my handsome, incredible Pudsey Bear will never be by my side, where he belongs, again.
“We only had 11 years together, but they were the best years ever. He was my one in a billion dog that will never be replaced.”
She added: “I don’t need to write all of his endless accomplishments on here to prove how incredible he was for me.
“Sleep tight my handsome man, I love you lots xxxx.”
On November 27, 2018, Ashleigh revealed her “new Pudsey” on ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
Sully looks almost identical to Pudsey apart from a slick of silver hair.
Ashleigh is now continuing her dog trick act with Sully following Pudsey’s passing.
At the time of the event, Ashleigh admitted: “It was a very sad Crufts, as it was the first time I’d not competed with Pudsey for a long time, but the championship win was for him as well.
“I definitely thought Pudsey was with us cheering Sully and me on.”
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