When secondary school teacher Tom Ball from West Sussex took the Britain's Got Talent auditions by storm on Sunday (April 17), head judge Simon Cowell said personality played a big part.
"There's something very likable about you. I don't think there's a single person in this room that wanted you to fail," said Cowell who is famously revered and feared in equal measure for his brutal assessments of wannabe TV talent.
But although Cowell is often quick to point out that in the eyes of contestants it is his opinion they value the most, there is no denying that since the early days of Pop Idol and the X Factor his acerbic comments have mellowed with him.
There are many reasons why that might be.
He was widely reported this week by the national media that putting his health first was his priority; he wanted to avoid burnout.
There is no doubt that his comments have appeared kinder since he became a father to his beloved son Eric.
The security of wealth and no longer being driven by a need to constantly reaffirm his success might also have played a part.
But Cowell's great skill is understanding the public - where the popular mood sits and what they expect.
The pandemic, the raising of mental health as a global issue of concern, and a desire for people to be less unpleasant in their comments, may have also contributed to the great reinvention of the most respected talent judge on the planet.
Certainly, Cowell can still burst the bubble of anyone's needlessly inflated ego.
But his focus has shifted.
That's why, the return of Britain's Got Talent has already been widely applauded - and why those who wrote the format off as tired and outdated will be proved wrong.
Tom Ball from Burgess Hill was told by Cowell: "I think you've got about 4,000 yeses."
That was a reflection on the ovation he received from the theatre audience.
All four judges gave the 23-year-old a resounding 'yes' to go through to the next stage of BGT.
West Sussex will be cheering Tom on all the way through the process to the finals. They gave him hundreds of thousands more yeses.
And they will have noted that BGT and Cowell far from becoming a soft touch - have never been on better form. Just like Tom.
BGT is on ITV at 8pm on Saturday April 23, 2022.