Who is Dancing on Ice judge Ashley Banjo?

Everything you need to know about the Diversity frontman turned TV judge

Ashley Banjo, Dancing on Ice (ITV)

It’s back! Dancing on Ice is returning for 2020 – with a few changes for series 12.

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This time sees us introduced to our 2020 line-up with a Strictly-style launch show, a brand new judge and, for the first time ever, a same-sex couple competing.

However, we do have some returning favourites; Olympic champions Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean will be back as head judges, as well as Ashley Banjo – who has been a welcome addition to the show since its relaunch in 2018.

So who is Ashley Banjo anyway? Here’s everything you need to know…

When did Ashley Banjo start dancing?

Born in Leytonstone, London in 1988, Banjo has always been a fond lover of dance, teaching himself routines since he was 14.

In 2007, alongside his brother Jordan Banjo, he formed dance troupe Swift Moves, which eventually morphed into Diversity. After winning a street dance competition that year, the team decided to enter the third series of Britain’s Got Talent in 2009.

When was Diversity on Britain’s Got Talent?

Although their routines were highly praised by judges Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and Piers Morgan, it was viral sensation Susan Boyle who was expected to score the contest’s £100,000 prize and coveted place performing at the Royal Variety.

Hardly believing their victory, Banjo said at the time, “I was saying ‘guys, second!’. When you said our name – honestly, I’m going to wake up in a minute.”

Since winning Britain’s Got Talent, dance troupe Diversity have completed eight tours, danced in the closing ceremony of the Invictus Games and are preparing for an anniversary tour in 2019, a decade after they won Britain’s Got Talent.

Banjo also saw himself narrowly miss another Britain’s Got Talent victory last year, after his Diversity offshoot, DVJ, entered the talent competition.

What other shows has Ashley Banjo starred in? Has he been a TV judge before?

Banjo’s expertise in dance saw him take part in a series of related programmes, including comedy-drama film Streetdance 3D, and all five series of Sky1’s competition, Got to Dance, until the show was cancelled in 2014.

Banjo also fronted two series of Ashley Banjo’s Secret Street Crew on Sky1, where himself, and a few other members of Diversity, teach a series of non-dancers a street routine before they perform in front of surprised family and friends at an event.

Banjo returned to his judging roots for ITV’s short-lived 2017 series Dance Dance Dance, which saw a collection of celebrities learn a series of routines alongside a friend or partner.

In more recent times, Banjo has leant his choreography skills to ITV special The Real Full Monty in both 2017 and 2018, which saw a series of celebrities strip on screen in order to raise awareness for those who have suffered from cancer.

Away from showcasing his own smooth moves, Banjo has also forayed into presenting. In 2015, he fronted an ITV special of Perspectives, where he explored the history of Michael Jackson and the inspiration behind the legendary 1984 Thriller video.

He also teamed up with Zoe Ball to front BBC1’s 2015 game show Can’t Touch This, where contestants had to navigate a huge assault course in order to win a selection of prizes.

His most recent hosting gig is Channel 4’s latest twist on the dating show, Flirty Dancing, in which Banjo teaches two singletons a separate routine they then perform together when they first meet.

“Dance is my thing,” he said. “I am intrigued by how different people find the right person. When the concept came up, my first conversation to show producers was about how I met my wife dancing. It does happen. I know friends who met their other half through dance.

“I knew there was something in it, so I just wanted to explore it.”

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Dancing on Ice returns with a Christmas Special on Sunday 22nd December at 7pm. The main show launches Sunday 5th January on ITV