What is The Greatest Dancer? Everything you need to know about the new BBC dancing talent show

Simon Cowell is behind this brand new dance show that will air in the New Year on BBC1

The Greatest Dancer: Oti Mabuse, Matthew Morrison, Cheryl

The Greatest Dancer is BBC1’s brand new Saturday night dance and entertainment show and ITV stalwart Simon Cowell’s first series for the BBC.

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But what’s it all about and who’s involved?

Below is everything you need to know about the format, challenges, presenters and judges, plus when it’s on and how you can get tickets to see the show live.

What is The Greatest Dancer?

The Greatest Dancer is seeking to find, well, the greatest dancer, as a smorgasbord of nimble-footed hopefuls from all dance backgrounds compete as soloists, duos or even large dance troupes.

Contestants head for the NEC in Birmingham to dance in a small studio in front of two producers. But behind the mirror in the studio sit Dance Captains Cheryl, Oti Mabuse and Matthew Morrison, not to mention the studio audience whose votes will decide what happens next…

How does The Greatest Dancer work?

Week 1-4: The auditions

The first four weeks of the show cover the audition stages, with Simon Cowell’s influence in evidence in many of his slick trademark touches – the mic’ed up audience, the overlay of moving music, the emotional backstories.

As the contestants perform in front of a two-way mirror, the audience members on the other side decide whether to vote for them on their key pads. The dance captains have no say at this stage.

If 75% of the audience vote for the act, the mirror opens to reveal the arena beyond and the contestants go through to the callback stages, which see the Dance Captains each selecting three acts to go through to the live shows.

Week 5-7: The live challenge shows

This stage sees each hopeful being set a challenge, together with their Dance Captain, to create a routine that the audience at home will love enough to keep them in the competition.

Week 8: The live grand final 

The eighth week of the competition is the live final, with all acts performing again and the viewers at home voting to determine who gets the title The Greatest Dancer, scooping the cash prize and the coveted Strictly slot.

Who are the judges on The Greatest Dancer?

The Greatest Dancer: Oti Mabuse, Matthew Morrison, Cheryl
The Greatest Dancer: Oti Mabuse, Matthew Morrison, Cheryl (BBC/Syco/Thames)

The judges are actually called ‘Dance Captains’, and they are former X Factor judge Cheryl, Glee star Matthew Morrison and Strictly Come Dancing professional Oti Mabuse.

Read more about what they had to say on joining the show here.

Who are the presenters of The Greatest Dancer?

The Greatest Dancer Jordan Banjo and Alesha Dixon
The Greatest Dancer Jordan Banjo and Alesha Dixon (BBC/Syco/Thames)

Alesha Dixon is returning to the BBC alongside Jordan Banjo as hosts of The Greatest Dancer.

Britain’s Got Talent judge Alesha was the winner of Strictly Come Dancing in 2007, and went on to replace Arlene Phillips as a judge on the show before quitting to join the BGT panel. Jordan, meanwhile, is the Diversity star who was the backstage digital presenter of Dancing on Ice in 2018.

Alesha said: “I can’t wait to be a part of The Greatest Dancer and work with Jordan. As a massive fan of dance I’m so excited about the prospect of finding amazing new dance talent.”

Is Simon Cowell going to be on The Greatest Dancer?

He isn’t going to be a judge, but he is linked to the show. The series is being made by Syco – Simon Cowell’s production company behind both Britain’s Got Talent and The X Factor. This will be the first time that Syco has produced a show for the BBC.

Simon Cowell
Simon Cowell (Getty)

When is The Greatest Dancer on TV and how many episodes are there?

The eight-part series kicked off on BBC1 at 8pm on Saturday 5th January – controversially going directly up against ITV’s Saturday night entertainment offering The Voice, which started on the same day and at exactly the same time.

The Greatest Dancer continues on Saturday nights on BBC1.

How can I audition?

Unfortunately, applications for the show are now closed. Open auditions were held in London this July, with the filmed segment of the show being recorded in August.

Can I get tickets to watch The Greatest Dancer?

The auditions may be over but there’ll be a chance to get audience tickets for the live finals. Check out ApplauseStore where application details will be posted once available.

What do the winners of The Greatest Dancer get?

The winners of the show will bag a cool £50,000. That might not be quite as impressive as the £250,000 prize for the winner of BGT, but we wouldn’t say no.

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The Greatest Dancer is on BBC1 on Saturday nights