Alesha Dixon and David Walliams join Simon Cowell and Amanda Holden for BGT 2012

Strictly Come Dancing judge jumps ship to ITV for Britain's Got Talent

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Alesha Dixon and David Walliams join Simon Cowell and Amanda Holden for BGT 2012
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Alesha Dixon and David Walliams are to be part of the Britain's Got Talent judging panel when the show begins its sixth series later this year.  The pair will be joined by Simon Cowell, who returns from America "to find the next generation of talent", and Amanda Holden who reprises her role from the last five years.

Best known as one of the judges on Strictly Come Dancing, Dixon announced a rather shock end to her three year relationship with the BBC celebrity dance show yesterday evening.   

Writing on her website, she 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.''

A spokeswoman for the BBC said: ''Alesha has had three very successful series and we wish her well for the future.

''The BBC gave her a fantastic opportunity and she has really grown her career and she is now off for a different challenge.

''We are now looking forward to announcing our new panel in due course.''

Walliams announcement comes as less of a surprise after months of BGT tabloid rumours leading to his door.  Nor will many be shocked by the return of Simon Cowell for the entire 2012 series.  The Syco boss missed the audition stages of the competition for the first time last year as he concentrated on projects in America. Although he returned for the live semi-finals and final, which eventually saw singer Jai McDowall crowned winner, many critics and viewers felt the series lacked spark without the media mogul on hand throughout.  

Indeed, such is Cowell's interest in reinvigorating BGT after below par ratings last year he's upped the prize from £100,000 to £500,000 - "£250,000 of which will be out of Simon’s own pocket".  Also, for the first time, the show will host an open audition at The Oval in London, which will allow punters the chance to show off their "talent" to a live crowd.  

Cowell said: “I miss Britain and I miss the British public and I miss judging them. I want to find the next generation of talent in 2012. Different and new acts, younger and better talent. You want someone who can be a star all over the world and 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 and I want this show to be back in the world spotlight. This year I really felt that I've got to put my money where my mouth is, so I'm personally putting up £250,000, so that's £500,000 cash to the winner, so that's a big incentive.”

“I'm absolutely delighted David is joining the panel. He thinks he can do a better job than the people there before so it's going to be fun. I think he's terrified!”

"I love Alesha. 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. I'm really looking forward to working with her and hope we get the opportunity to find a star together"

David Walliams said: “I am so thrilled to be the new Cheryl Cole.”

Alesha Dixon said: ” I am delighted to be joining the judging panel of Britain’s Got Talent for 2012, it's a fantastic show and I am very excited to be working with Simon, David and Amanda on the search for a new star."

Amanda Holden, who is the only judge to have partaken in all six series of the programme, said: “I'm really excited to be back on Britain's Got Talent, it's so much fun and I can't wait to see what talent the UK has on offer this year! Having Simon back will be great - I've missed my work husband being on the panel and keeping him in check every now and again.”