How Simon Cowell lured Alesha from Strictly with a 350k pay packet: Dixon announced as new judge on Britain's Got Talent
Alesha Dixon is leaving Strictly Come Dancing – for Simon Cowell’s ITV show Britain’s Got Talent.
The pop star stunned BBC executives yesterday morning by quitting the Corporation’s flagship Saturday evening programme.
Within hours, she was unveiled as a judge in the revamped BGT, which begins auditioning for contestants later this month.
New role: Alesha Dixon has been confirmed as a new judge on Britain's Got Talent, just hours after quitting Strictly Come Dancing
Miss Dixon, 33, is said to be receiving 350,000 for her new job – believed to be three times her Strictly salary estimated at 100,000. Last night her manager Malcolm Blair insisted she had not moved for money.
He said talks had been going on between ITV and Miss Dixon for the last ‘couple of weeks’.
Good deal: Simon Cowell is said to have offered Alesha a 350k deal
However, he confirmed the BBC was made aware of her defection only yesterday morning.
'It was never about the money,' he said. 'Alesha’s had three incredible years on Strictly but there comes a time when you have to move on.'
ITV, though, is delighted with the 'coup'. One insider said: 'This is really good for BGT. Simon really wanted her on the show.'
A BBC executive, who learned of her exit only when told by the Mail, said he was surprised at the station’s decision.
He said: 'Alesha took a while to bed in at Strictly so I’m surprised ITV decided to book her.'
Another BBC insider said: 'Strictly is bigger than Alesha. We gave her her big break.'
Miss Dixon rose to fame in urban band Mis-Teeq, then won Strictly as a contestant in 2007 before becoming a judge on the show.
Last night there were whispers she had quit because she wants to record an album and promote it in the autumn, when Strictly is on. This latest job would allow her that opportunity.
Whatever her motivation, the signing and financial outlay mark a huge investment by ITV and Cowell.
Both BGT and The X Factor, Strictly’s big rival, were hit by reduced ratings last year.
As they were: Cowell and Amanda Holden will be back for the new series, but David Hasselhoff and Michael McIntyre will not
The last series of BGT was the first in which Cowell was not a judge throughout the show, returning only for the live finals.
Two judges – former Baywatch star David Hasselhoff and comedian Michael McIntyre – were hired to replace Cowell and Piers Morgan, alongside Amanda Holden.
Screen star: David Walliams will also be joining the BGT panel
However, neither proved a success and left after just one series.
Dixon will join a returning Cowell, Miss Holden and comedian David
Walliams in the revamped line-up. Walliams is believed to be receiving
800,000 for his role.
In September 2010, there had been speculation linking Miss Dixon with a move to Cowell’s team on The X Factor.
However, she eventually signed to stay with Strictly, which enjoyed one of its most successful series.
Miss Dixon said: ‘I am delighted to be joining the judging panel of
Britain’s Got Talent for 2012. It’s a fantastic show and I am very
excited to be working with Simon, David and Amanda on the search for a
added: ‘I love Alesha. She is feisty, opinionated and knows what it’s
like to be both a competitor and judge on a hugely popular TV show.’
who has spent the past seven months in the U.S., insisted he was
returning to BGT because he missed ‘the British public’.
also revealed this year’s winner, as well as performing at the Royal
Variety Performance, would receive a prize of 500,000 – with him
putting up half the money.
In contrast, last year’s winner Jai McDowall received just 100,000.
Cowell, 52, said: ‘I miss Britain, and I miss the British public, and I miss judging them.’
Bedell, ITV director of entertainment and comedy said: 'There’s no head
judge quite like Simon Cowell. And I’m delighted David and Alesha will
be joining Simon and Amanda on the panel.'
Who will replace her Who will sit with Craig Revel Horwood, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli
A BBC spokesman said: 'Alesha has had three really successful series of Strictly and we wish her well in the future.'
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In a statement explaining her departure from Strictly, Miss Dixon said:
'After three incredible years on the Strictly Come Dancing judging panel I
have decided that it is time to move on.
'Strictly Come Dancing will always
hold a special place in my heart as it has been such an amazing
experience, both as a winning competitor and as a judge.
'I would like to say a big thank you
to everyone involved in the show, the production team, my fellow
judges, and a very special thank you to the fans for their support.
'Music is my great passion and the
reason for the other incredible opportunities that have come my way and I
am looking forward to getting back into the studio and focusing on
making a new record in 2012.'
Triumph: Dixon and Matthew Cutler in the final of Strictly Come Dancing in 2007
The new judging line-up for Strictly is not expected to be announced until late spring or early summer.
However, last night an internet campaign had started to bring back former judge Arlene Phillips.
The 68-year-old was controversially axed for Miss Dixon in 2009, sparking accusations of ageism.
early names being touted include ballet dancer Darcey Bussell, former
ladette Zoe Ball and Dirty Dancing star Jennifer Grey.
2008, Cowell said: 'Strictly Come Dancing p***es me off more than
anything else. I would love it. I just wish I owned that show.'