Diff 2017: Britain’s Got Talent host Alesha Dixon admits 'reality TV has a shelf life'

The actress Dixon was at the Dubai International Film Festival as honorary chair at the Global Gift Gala, a charity which she supports on a regular basis

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 08:  Alesha Dixon attends the Global Gift Gala on day three of the 14th annual Dubai International Film Festival held at the Versace Hotel on December 8, 2017 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images for DIFF)
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Britain's Got Talent judge Alesha Dixon, who sits on the show's panel alongside Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and David Walliams, has admitted that the slew of talent-seeking reality TV shows, which also feature the likes of The Voice and The X-Factor, can't last for ever.

“Everything in life, everything runs its course, but I would say with us, we’re OK right now,” the former Mis-Teeq singer says. “I think change is inevitable in life, with us just the same as anyone else. I don’t worry about it, but ultimately change is inevitable. We’ve been incredibly successful for six years and every year at the beginning of the series we sit down and say, ‘Have we run our course? Has Britain run out of talent?’”

For now, however, Dixon feels there’s plenty of talent still to come. “The answer to that is, no, because what happens is each time the show goes out, a new crop of people watch it and are inspired to come on the show and show their talent, or just have a laugh, and that’s the thing I love about the show,” she says. “We celebrate all kinds of people from all backgrounds and all ages. We don’t discriminate against anyone. Also I think because we’re on for quite a short period of time in the year, it comes in and hits you like a big bang, then it’s gone. It becomes a real event.”


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Dixon was at the Dubai International Film Festival as honorary chair at the Global Gift Gala, a charity which she supports on a regular basis. “I met [GGG founder] Maria Bravo a couple of years ago when I was invited to perform at the Global Gift in Ibiza, and I’ve attended several since and become a real fan,” she says. “When I got the call to come tonight and be honorary chair I was more than happy to come out here and stand on stage and talk about the great work they’re doing, and tonight’s other charities too, Dubai Cares and Harmony House. The work they’re doing is incredible. I just feel like I should use the platform I’ve been given responsibly, and this is one occasion when I can do that.”

Dixon came to the world of reality TV judging quite by accident. Following Mis-Teeq's break-up in 2005, the star entered 2007's Strictly Come Dancing as a contestant, and was subsequently asked to return as a guest. Was this all part of some grand master plan on her part? "I never intended to be a judge," she insists. "I wanted to go on Strictly because I have passion for dancing and at that point I needed a pick me up in my life. I'd always said to my mum that of all those competing shows that was the only one I'd go on, and it really worked for me."

It certainly did work for her. Two years later, Dixon was back on Strictly as a judge, and her rise through the reality TV ranks has been inexorable since. Her initial Strictly appointment wasn't without controversy though, as some members of the ballroom dancing community felt the pop singer and relative ballroom novice lacked the credentials for the role. "When they asked me to come back as a judge I was really excited and it was a great new challenge, but I had to learn to have a bit of faith in the unknown," she admits. "I get bored very quickly so I love to take on new challenges. It was a bit controversial at first because people questioned whether I really had the experience to be a judge, but that lasted about two weeks. I think I proved my detractors wrong and I had three great years there before I chose to move onto Britain's Got Talent. It's been a rollercoaster, but a brilliant one. The rollercoaster you don't want to get off."

Long before her reality TV roles, Dixon  came to prominence as a member of pop/R'n'B/garage trio Mis-Teeq, whose hits between 1999 and 2005 included 2004's Catwoman theme tune Scandalous. It was an era when British urban music was still struggling to find its own voice alongside more successful American purveyors of hip-hop and R'n'B. In the years since we've seen the rise and fall of UK garage, and the emergence of other uniquely British urban musical genres such as grime and dubstep. I ask Dixon how she feels about the current state of the seemingly burgeoning UK urban music scene: "I think even as far back as 2001, when the Craig Davids and Daniel Bedingfields started to emerge I felt like the landscape was changing," she says. "I felt like the Brits could do it their way and not have to copy what someone else is doing to be successful."

In 2017, Dixon feels that there is greater acceptance of UK urban music as a form in itself, rather than an imitation of United States culture. “There’s that constant battle over whether it’s cool to go into the mainstream or whether you should keep it underground, but there are artists out there who are staying true to their roots and their sound but also getting acknowledgement all around the world,” she says. “I think there’s still a long way to go, but I think definitely if you’re a young British artist, you know today that you can make it in the global industry with your sound and not have to compromise so much like we maybe did in the past."