Diversity star Ashley Banjo will stand in for Simon Cowell on the upcoming Britain’s Got Talent finals this year.
Simon is unable to appear as he has been ordered by doctors to rest after breaking his back in a bike accident.
Fan favourite Ashley – who won the ITV show in 2009 with his incredible street dance group – will take up the new role for the first semi-final, due to be filmed on Friday.
He told The Sun on Sunday: “As if 2020 couldn’t get any crazier!
“Walking on that stage as a 20-year-old street dancer from East London and now I am walking out there and stepping in for the big man.
“It feels really nice, almost poetic.” he added.
From his home in Malibu where he is currently recovering, Simon said: “Ashley will be a fantastic addition to the panel. He knows the power of the show and the responsibility of it.
Simon also jokingly revealed he now hated cycling and added;
“I couldn’t think of a better person to sit in my seat whilst I follow doctor’s orders. I hate that stupid bike.”
Although it had been previously thought that Simon might be able to appear via video link for the BGT finals, doctors vetoed the idea. They insisted Simon fully rest up and it has now been confirmed that he will not be seen at all on the show.
This year’s BGT semi-finals will be very different, the inevitable result of Covid-19 and social distancing restrictions. The semi-finals, which had been due to be held in May, will now take place over five, nail-biting – and pre-recorded – episodes. The Final will then take place live in October.
As usual, Ant and Dec will host the semi-finals whilst Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams will join Ashley at the judges’ desk. Eight contestants will perform in each semi-final and the judges will choose one act to go through. The second finalist will then be chosen via public vote when the episode airs.
With safety concerns paramount, some acts will take part remotely via video link whilst others will perform in the TV studio – though without a live audience. Instead, all acts will be watched by a virtual audience – with their performances live streamed into homes across the UK and the virtual audiences’ reactions then beamed into the studio on a giant screen.
The series will then culminate with the live final, in October, where one act will triumph as Britain’s Got Talent 2020 Champion and win the life-changing £250,000 prize plus that coveted role on The Royal Variety Performance.
Britain’s Got Talent returns on August 30th with a special catch up episode.