Alesha Dixon said it was “strange at the beginning” to have long-standing Britain’s Got Talent judge David Walliams replaced on the panel by Bruno Tonioli but he brought “energy and pizzazz”.
Tonioli, 67, was confirmed as the ITV show’s new panellist after weeks of speculation, and recently joined Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and Dixon during the auditions stage across the UK.
He replaced 51-year-old comedian Walliams, who had joined the judging panel in 2012 alongside Dixon.
Last year Walliams apologised for making “disrespectful comments” about auditioning contestants during breaks in filming the show in January 2020.
Appearing on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen, Dixon said of former Strictly Come Dancing judge Tonioli joining the panel: “Being the family that we were for 10 years, it felt strange at the beginning, it’s like a new normal, a new energy. But Bruno did fantastically well.
“I think it’s quite difficult coming in as the newbie, but he came with all his energy and pizzazz and the audience loved him.”
Flamboyant Italian dancer and choreographer Tonioli became renowned for his animated movements and charismatic on-screen presence during his 18 years on the BBC’s flagship dance show.
“Bruno pressed it within the first 10 to 15 seconds of the act. All the rules went out the window, but actually that became the theme of the series. It was great.
“We just threw the rulebook out and it was like anything goes, which made it quite fun.
“Watching the show through the eyes of somebody new was quite sweet because obviously we’ve been there for so long now, it was lovely. It ticks all the boxes as usual.”
Now in its 16th series, Britain’s Got Talent will return to screens later this year as acts battle it out for the chance to scoop the £250,000 prize and perform at the Royal Variety Performance.
Dixon also spoke about her upcoming role hosting the Eurovision Song Contest alongside Ted Lasso actress Hannah Waddingham, Ukrainian singer Julia Sanina and returning favourite, comedian and talk show host Graham Norton.
She said: “I’m so honoured to be asked to be a part of the hosting line-up. It’s going to be so exciting this year, back in the UK, taking the reins from Ukraine and obviously want to represent their culture beautifully.
“I think it’s had a real revival. I think people are invested again, they care, particularly with Sam Ryder doing so well.
“It should be fun, and ultimately music unites people. There’s 160 million people watching around the world. I love live (TV), it doesn’t mean you don’t get nervous.
“You’ve always got to be slightly on the edge. There’s so much TV out there and I think when something is live in the moment, you feel that energy. I really look forward to that. And of course, I love music, so it’s a no brainer for me.”
The international music show will take place at the M&S Bank Arena Liverpool in May after the city was chosen to host the competition on behalf of 2022 winners Ukraine following the Russian invasion.
Dixon added: “I got an email yesterday with a date for a script read, so I’m excited to get my hands on the script. I can’t wait.”