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Cheryl on The Greatest Dancer: 'Oti had a meltdown!'

Cheryl main The Greatest Dancer
(Image credit: BBC/Thames/David Ellis/Matt Burlem)

The Greatest Dancer is back soon – and Cheryl reveals how the dance captains are REALLY competitive this time round…

As The Greatest Dancer returns on Saturday night, there’s a new dance captain joining Strictly Come Dancing pro Oti Mabuse, Broadway and Glee star Matthew Morrison and former X Factor judge Cheryl this series in the shape of American singer and choreographer Todrick Hall.

And as ex Girls Aloud star Cheryl, 36, reveals when we chatted to her at the recent press launch in London, the new boy has really shaken things up…

Cheryl, there’s a new dance captain joining you, Strictly Come Dancing’s Oti Mabuse and Glee’s Matthew Morrison this series in the shape of American singer and choreographer Todrick Hall. What does he bring to the show?

Cheryl: "Todrick’s hilarious! I’ve basically got a front row seat for his jokes all day. I think I belly laughed the whole way through filming this series."

dance captains Greatest Dancer auditions

Cheryl alongside her fellow dance captains (L-R): Oti, Matthew and new boy Todrick

Also new for this series, at the end of each audition show, a dance captain is selected at random to choose their ‘Greatest Dancer of the Day’ to put straight through to the live challenge shows. Was it an easy decision for you?

"I didn’t know who I was going to pick. When my name came up, I was like: ‘Oh damn!’ When the mirrors opened and revealed all that day’s dancers and I was looking around at all of them and looking them in the eyes, I just had this instinct. There were such great dancers to choose from – the act I chose just gave me something deeper."

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Did the other dance captains find it difficult?

"Oh, Oti went into full-on meltdown!"

When it came to completing your final three acts for the live challenge shows, was it really competitive among the dance captains this time?

"There were some rows. Matthew was very sure this year. Oti just tries to hide people so you forget about them, she plays dirty. I’m just honest and say: ‘I want him, I want her, don’t touch them, I want them’. Me play games? If I do, it’s because Todrick told me to do it!"

Dance captains group The Greatest Dancer

Once again, the winning dance act gets to perform on Strictly. What makes The Greatest Dancer different to that show?

"Strictly is Latin and ballroom and our show is very much about variety – everything from tiny, little kids to 98-year-olds! So it’s just the variety, the different genres of dance we see and the fact that the studio audience gets to choose whether or not an act even gets through the audition process."

You came from a talent show, Popstars: The Rivals. How do you guide the dancers on this show through rejection?

"I think one of the beautiful things about this show is nobody feels rejected. It’s certainly a different process to the one I went through. Music shows are different but, for dancers, what they’re doing all the time is competing. They put themselves out there and they know somebody wins and somebody doesn’t. The real dance world is brutal. Our show is gentle in comparison. It’s a feel-good, Saturday night show that all the family can enjoy. I feel warm and happy when I watch it back, knowing I was part of it."

The Greatest Dancers starts on Saturday January 4 at 7pm on BBC1.