Having enjoyed huge success in America as the host of So You Think You Can Dance?, Cat Deeley returns to British TV screens this week fronting Sing: Ultimate A Cappella on Sky1. Cat Deeley tells us what Sing... is about and lifts the lid on the hotly anticipated SM:tv reunion...
Presenter Cat Deeley talks to What's on TV about her new Sky 1 singing show, being back in Britain and reveals whether she'll be reuniting with Ant & Dec any time soon...
Hey Cat, welcome back to Blighty!
“Thanks, although I haven’t really been away. All my family are here so, although I live in Los Angeles, we come backwards and forwards all the time. But it’s been lovely to come back for work, though. Paddy and Milo are back in LA – so he’s on baby duty while I’m here – and then I’ll fly back once we’ve finished filming.”
So what was it about your new Sky1 show Sing: Ultimate A Cappella that appealed to you?
“I used to sing in a choir when I was a kid, so the idea of this show excited me. I’m always up for doing anything that’s new and interesting or that scares me slightly where I’m thinking: ‘Ooh, I don’t know how this is gonna work, so let’s try it!’”
Cat has a chat with all-male choir Semi-Toned
Did you ever compete when you were singing in the choir?
“No – I think I was probably somewhere at the back! I really enjoyed it though. One of the things I’ve noticed on this show is that, it kind of doesn’t matter where you come from or what your background is, being in a choir is just all-encompassing. These choirs are all brought together by their love of music and that’s what it’s all about.”
Sing… brings together 30 brilliant and diverse a cappella groups in a competition based on raw vocal talent. What makes it stand out from other singing shows on TV?
“The most impressive thing about this show is that there’s no backing track, no musical instruments and nothing to hide behind. So all we hear are the singers – it’s literally just them and a microphone. There’s no smoke and mirrors on this show.”
Cat enjoys a natter with all-female singing quartet, Stereoettes
When people think of choirs they might think of barbershop quartets or gospel singers. Is there lots of variety on this show?
“Absolutely! I like how we’ve got a real eclectic mix of choirs on this show, made up of all different people; for example, we had one group where one’s a baker and one’s an engineer. And some of what they do is just incredible; I don’t know how they do the beatboxing or anything like that. With some of them, I was like: ‘How is that sound coming out of you?’”
How does filming in the UK compare to filming in the States?
“I don’t think it really differs that much. The big difference in America is the cross-country time zones, so when I’m doing So You Think You Can Dance, we go live for two hours but we go live to the East Coast. Then it slowly rolls out across the rest of the country, which is very weird. The lovely thing about filming Sing in the UK is that the sound guy on this show is the same one from SM:tv Live and the floor manager worked on CD:UK. We all practically grew up together, so walking out onto the stage for Sing, I felt like I was coming home.”
Now a household name in America, Cat Deeley is back on British screens as the host of Sing...
You’ve been hosting So You Think You Can Dance in the US since 2006. Why do you think you’ve been successful in the States where so many others have tried and failed?
“Lots of people ask me why I think [I’ve been successful] and I honestly don’t know but there’s a commissioner in the US called Mike Darnell, who’s known for making very brave choices in terms of reality TV. He’s a super bright man, who I admire a lot. And he just allowed me to be a bit nuts and a bit bonkers and let me get on with it.
"So they just let the audience get to know me and understand my peccadilloes and my weirdness. I think people are often too quick to jump in and fix something that maybe doesn’t need fixing, it just needs somebody who has the power to say: ‘You know what, we chose them for a reason’ and give them time to grow. In fact, that’s also what happened with myself, Ant and Dec on SM:tv…"
How do you mean?
“When we first started we were absolutely rubbish! We were really, REALLY bad – so bad that we’ve never even watched back the first episode together, even for a laugh. But there was a guy named Nigel Pickard, who was in charge of commissioning, who saw something in us. He was like: ‘I don’t know what it is, but these kids have got something, so let’s keep them at it.’”
Cat Deeley alongside TV's Ant & Dec during their SM:tv heyday
Ant & Dec have said they’re keen to do an SM:tv reunion to mark the show’s 20th anniversary next year. Is that still on the cards?
“We’re all super busy but the three of us have been talking about it and everyone wants to make it happen. Everything will come back exactly as it was; there will be Pokemon jumpers, me as ‘Cat the Dog’ and, of course, Chums. I’m expecting adults who remember the show to have a nice time re-living their youth – and I want everybody to have proper pyjama parties!”
Sing: Ultimate A Cappella starts on Friday 6 October at 9pm on Sky 1 and NOW TV.
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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!