Ashley Banjo says he won’t be “mucking about” as he sits in for Simon Cowell on Britain’s Got Talent.
The dancer won the show in 2009 as part of Diversity and will now be making a return behind the judges’ desk.
Ashley will step in for Simon who won’t be able to make this year’s semi-finals as he recovers from a recent back injury.
Speaking about joining the show, Ashley said he didn’t see himself as a ‘replacement’ for Simon.
Ashley explained: “If I was stepping in for any of the other judges then I’d feel that way, I’d feel nervous about it being big shoes to fill. But with Simon his shoes are well and truly on, no one can ever replace him or fill his shoes. I just feel like I am doing a job for him because Simon can never be replaced in that way. I’m just an addition to the panel, that’s the way I see it.
“It actually makes me less nervous, the fact I’m stepping in for Simon. To be honest anyone sitting in Simon’s chair would have to bring a level of respect where people go, ‘Do you know what? That person knows what they are talking about’.
“There’s no one more qualified than Simon when it comes to judging variety acts, and if you’re going to sit on that panel you better have some decent qualifications. But I think in terms of the niche of BGT I am a weirdly qualified person purely because of my journey on the show.”
As for what his judging style will involve, Ashley said: “I’ll be tough on everyone! I won’t be Mr. Mean, just Mr. Honest. With a show like BGT there’s no mucking about. It’s not a celeb-based show, it’s not like everyone’s there just for entertainment, this is life changing stuff.
“I’m going to be sitting there questioning what they are doing, why would you use your two minutes to show the world what they can do and then do that? If that’s how I feel, then I’ll say it!”
Ashley went on to suggest he could bring a new viewpoint to the panel.
“The other judges get it, of course they do, they’ve had as much experience as anyone. But they can never understand the show in the same way as I do,” he said. “Hearing that title music for the show, even now sitting at home, when I hear that music it sends waves through my stomach. Even now all these years later, I hear that music and Ant and Dec saying, ‘Here’s Diversity…’.
“It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. Every time we go out there on that stage I think that this is us walking back in there after ten years and still being able to hold our own. I don’t know if anywhere in the world any other act has done that.”
Meanwhile, Ashley teased that we may well see Diversity performing in the semi-finals.
He said: “I never try and better what we did on the show the last time we performed, I always try and be in the moment. If you try and better what you did you’ll never succeed because we’re not the same people we were last year. Our story now is different. What we can say now is something else completely.”
Britain’s Got Talent’s semi-finals begin on ITV on Saturday, September 5 at 8PM and continue weekly.