By JODY THOMPSON
Down and out: Jessica, who was comforted by co-host Declan McDonnelly, was then voted out of the competition
He started off on British television screens as being the ruthless baddie we all loved to hate before toning his cutting remarks down.
But Simon Cowell was back all guns blazing as Mr Nasty tonight, reducing a pretty 19-year-old singer to tears on Britain's Got Talent with his harsh words, despite putting in a sterling effort with her singing.
Jessica Hobley was then voted off the show, and big-voiced singer Jai McDowall and comedy dancer Steven Hall were put through to Saturday's grand final.
Devastated: Jessica Hobson was left so upset she couldn't speak tonight on the Britain's Got Talent live semi-final after a tongue lashing from Simon Cowell
In her audition, Sheffield girl Jessica had sat behind a piano to do an acoustic version of Michael Jackson's Billie Jean, but tonight, did a big song and dance number of Beyoncé's Single Ladies - and Simon hated it.
Although the audience appeared to enjoy her performance in a sparkly dress, and after positive comments from judges Michael McIntyre - who deemed it 'excellent' and Amanda Holden 'great' - Simon laid into her.
As the audience booed loudly, he snarled: 'I thought it started fine, with you on the keyboards, but then it got increasingly worse.
Keyboard queen: Jessica had started off as she did for her audition behind the piano but then got up to sing with a host of backing dancers
The verdicts: Despite thumbs up from three judges head judge Simon Cowell laid into her - even criticising her dress
Tears: The 19-year-old was left in a flood of tears as millions of viewers watched her being comforted by host Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly
'You're 19 years old, whoever came up with the idea of you with the two dancers was really dated, and I didn't like the version of the song.
'You should have been on your own at the piano and not you in the silly dress. I think the show did you wrong tonight.'
As tears started springing to her eyes and she was comforted by show co-hosts Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, she attempted to explain that her performance hadn't been her idea.
Making his point: Head judge Simon Cowell slated Jessica's performance of Beyoncé's Single Ladies as well as her outfit
She managed to get as far as stuttering: 'I didn't choose what I wanted to sing.
Apparently, it was somebody...' before choking up and dissolving in tears.
Judge David Hasselhoff however tried to comfort her, saying: 'You don't have to come out with a whole big production, stay intimate with your audience.
'You did a great job though but go back to what you do best.'
But it was too late and Jessica was bereft.
The show had opened with a Welsh all-girl dance outfit called Dance Angels Elite who dazzled with a colourful routine, and received all round praise, despite some reservations from Simon.
However, there were literally some howlers on the show.
Doggone: Canine act Mexican Mayhem, consisting of madcap Melanie and her brace of chihuahuas, were out of the show
Melanie with Tucker and Twizzle the chihuahuas were Mexican Mayhem - but the dogs failed to perform, to hilarity from the crowd.
However, judges Amanda and Michael were so embarrassed by the act and the fact that they'd put them through to the semis that they ran away from the desk.
After being made to rejoin the panel, Amanda confessed: 'It was absolutely rubbish. I found it endearing and funny first time round, tonight I was excrutiatingly embarrassed. I'm sorry.'
David was left tickled though, enthusing: 'I thought it was the most hysterical act I've ever seeen in my life. You're trying to get them drunk on tequila and you're doing the splits. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Simon was less than impressed, interjecting: 'Really, I love dogs, but that was without question the worst dog act I've seen in my life. I don't know who's directing this show tonight, it's completely mad.'
The last Britain's Got Talent live semi final is on Friday on ITV1 at 7.30pm and 9.30pm where the last two acts will win through to Saturday's final - and the chance to win £100,000 and to play for The Queen at the Royal Variety Performance in December.
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