Ashley Banjo on Flirty Dancing: 'I'm a qualified match-maker now!'
Diversity star Ashley Banjo is playing Cupid once more as he returns with a new series of his unique dating show with a dancing difference...
Can people really fall in love at first dance? That's what Diversity star Ashley Banjo will be trying to find out as his dating show, Flirty Dancing, returns for its second series next week.
Once again, Ashley will be playing Cupid and attempting to match-make singletons through dance alone. Having practised the same routine separately with Ashley and his team, the first time the couple meet will be when they dance! But will they feel enough of a connection to want to see each other again?
Here Ashley, 31, talks about the pitfalls of modern dating and how Diversity are more united than ever…
Do you really believe people can 'fall in love at first dance'?
"Yes, I do, to a degree. There's a truth in dancing with someone that you don't quite get when you talk to them. The first time these couples meet, they don’t talk, they just dance. And from the way they connect and dance together, and the vibe they get from each other, they’ll find out if there’s a spark. But any initial connection is made solely through dance and touch."
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The singletons are putting a lot of trust in someone they’ve never met with ambitious lifts and so on…
"I know, and they’re putting a lot of trust in me, too! With some people this series, I get them to do lifts, drops and catches before they’ve even looked at each other, so they are literally doing it from just ‘feel’. The trust they need to have is mad!"
It turns out that singletons Kerry and Jordan, in episode one, actually live in the same town…
"I know. How cool is that? I remember when I first saw that story on paper I was like: ‘No! That can’t be.’ It’s amazing."
Do you feel like a proud dad watching from the wings? And, if the pairings don't work out, do you feel like you’ve failed?
"I feel sometimes proud, sometimes responsible and sometimes guilty because, of course, I want everybody to work out. All I want is for them to feel enough of a connection to want to meet up again and have a chat. And if they don’t then obviously I think to myself: ‘You messed that one up, Ash!’ But, doing this show, I would certainly say I’m a qualified matchmaker now."
Do you think modern dating has become a bit of a minefield?
"Definitely. These days, with online dating, if your photo doesn’t stand out from the get-go people are like: ‘Nah!’ But you need to give people a chance. I’ve had someone on Flirty Dancing reject a guy because they didn’t like their shoes! Perfection needs a little bit of moulding sometimes."
You’re returning to Dancing on Ice as a judge in the New Year and your Diversity pal Perri Kiely is taking part. How’s he getting on in training?
"I haven’t spoken to him loads about it because I want to be surprised but, at the same time, I feel a bit sorry for him. He’s not egotistical at all but he works hard and he IS talented, so the pressure he feels under to be good is immense! We’re in the middle of a 50-date Diversity tour around the UK and, on his day off recently, he did a four-hour skate session. He’s in bits! But he won’t give up because that’s what he’s like."
How’s the tour going? Can you believe it’s 10 years since Diversity won Britain’s Got Talent?
"It’s been amazing. It’s a real dream come true that, 10 years on from winning BGT, we’re still performing to thousands of people every night. I feel so overwhelmed. More than anything, as Diversity, we just want to stick together. This tour is about not giving up, celebrating 10 years and looking to the future. Every time we perform I say to myself: 'How lucky are we?'"
Flirty Dancing starts on Friday November 8 at 8pm on Channel 4.
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With over 20 years’ experience writing about TV and film, Vicky currently writes features for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week magazines plus news and watching guides for WhatToWatch.com, a job which involves chatting to a whole host of famous faces. Our Vicky LOVES light entertainment, with Strictly Come Dancing, Britain’s Got Talent and The Voice UK among her fave shows. Basically, if it’s got a shiny floor, she’s all over it! When she’s not watching TV, you might find Vicky in therapy… retail therapy that is!