Entertainment & Arts

Alesha Dixon leaves Strictly for Britain's Got Talent

Alesha Dixon
Image caption Alesha Dixon replaced Arlene Phillips on Strictly three years ago

Alesha Dixon is to leave BBC One's hit programme Strictly Come Dancing to join ITV1 talent show Britain's Got Talent.

Dixon announced she will join Simon Cowell's team for the programme's sixth series later this year.

The 33-year-old will appear alongside the show's creator Cowell, comic David Walliams and Amanda Holden on the Britain's Got Talent judging panel.

A BBC spokesperson said "we wish her well for the future". A new Strictly judge will be announced in due course.

Walliams is also a newcomer on Britain's Got Talent. He and Dixon replace comedian Michael McIntyre and actor David Hasselhoff from series five.

In a message on her website, Dixon, who won Strictly in 2007, 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."

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Media captionAnn Widdecombe says it "wouldn't be a bad thing" if Arlene Phillips returned as a judge on Strictly

A BBC spokesperson said: "The BBC gave her a fantastic opportunity and she has really grown her career and is now off for a different challenge."

Simon Cowell said he was really looking forward to working with Dixon, who "he loved".

"She is feisty, opinionated and knows what it's like to be both a competitor and judge on a hugely popular TV show. This is going to be a brand new experience for her and I think she is going to bring a lot to the table," he said.

Commenting on his return to the UK show after appearing in the US version of X Factor, Simon Cowell said: "I miss Britain and miss the British public and miss judging them".

He added: "By coming back in 2012, it's the year of the Olympics, it's a big year for Britain, we are going to be in the world's spotlight."

ITV also announced that the prize money for the winner of the show is to increase from £100,000 to £500,000 and Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly will return as presenters.

Dixon, who was a member of girl group Mis-Teeq, received a backlash after it was announced in 2009 that she would replace Arlene Phillips on the Strictly judging panel.

Accusations of ageism were aimed at the BBC after Phillips - who was 66 at the time - left the show.

An experienced choreographer, some fans were perplexed as to why she was replaced by Dixon, who had only won the Strictly final as an amateur celebrity contestant two years previously.

But Dixon soon grew into her role alongside Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel Horwood and the furore died down.

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