Alesha Dixon reflects on Britain’s Got Talent’s 2021 series being postponed amid COVID-19 lockdown

Alesha Dixon has reflected on the decision to postpone Britain’s Got Talent‘s 2021 series to later in the year, amid the UK’s COVID-19 lockdown.

The singer, 42, spoke about the show on Thursday’s edition of Steph’s Packed Lunch on Channel 4, saying that while it wasn’t ‘an ideal situtation’ the priority for show bosses was the well-being of their staff and audience.

She explained: ‘It’s obviously not an ideal situation, but the most important thing is the well-being of everyone who works on the show, and the public who come along to the show. 

Candid: Alesha Dixon said on Thursday that BGT's 2021 series being postponed is 'not ideal' but the well-being of staff and the audience is their priority

Candid: Alesha Dixon said on Thursday that BGT’s 2021 series being postponed is ‘not ideal’ but the well-being of staff and the audience is their priority

‘And we want to make the show the best it can possibly be, so if that means pushing it back and waiting a little bit, then you know that’s what we have to do.’

Earlier this month, ITV announced the show had been delayed until the autumn as COVID-19 lockdown scuppered plans for nationwide auditions. 

The 2021 series was set to mark the return of Simon Cowell to the judging panel, as he was forced to miss last year’s live shows after breaking his back in a bike accident. 

And Alesha said of her fellow judge: ‘Simon’s doing really really well, the last time I spoke to Lauren, as you know Simon doesn’t have a mobile phone anymore.

Safety first: Alesha said on Step's Packed Lunch, 'It’s obviously not an ideal situation, but the most important thing is the well-being of everyone who works on the show, and the public'

Safety first: Alesha said on Step’s Packed Lunch, ‘It’s obviously not an ideal situation, but the most important thing is the well-being of everyone who works on the show, and the public’

Better to wait: Alesha reflected, 'We want to make the show the best it can possibly be, so if that means pushing it back and waiting a little bit, then you know that’s what we have to do'

Better to wait: Alesha reflected, ‘We want to make the show the best it can possibly be, so if that means pushing it back and waiting a little bit, then you know that’s what we have to do’

‘So we tend to have to get updates from Lauren, they’ve been in Barbados having a gorgeous time, just slightly jealous that they are out there in that lovely sunshine. 

‘But yes, he’s well, and obviously he was looking forward to coming back and starting the auditions in February, but unfortunately that’s not going to happen so we’ll have to wait a little bit longer until I can see him again.’

Ashley Banjo was drafted in to replace Simon on the judging panel, and his group Diversity’s BLM-inspired routine sparked 24,500 complaints in the last series.

Reassuring: The 2021 series was set to mark the return of Simon Cowell to the judging panel, and Alesha said of her fellow judge: 'Simon’s doing really really well'

Reassuring: The 2021 series was set to mark the return of Simon Cowell to the judging panel, and Alesha said of her fellow judge: ‘Simon’s doing really really well’

Sweet: Alesha added that while Simon was 'looking forward' to returning to the show it wasn't possible so 'we’ll have to wait a little bit longer until I can see him again'

Sweet: Alesha added that while Simon was ‘looking forward’ to returning to the show it wasn’t possible so ‘we’ll have to wait a little bit longer until I can see him again’

Of the show’s support of him and the group, Alesha said: ‘I’ve always felt that about the show, as much as there’s the laughs and the silliness I think the show uses it’s platform really responsibly, we always highlight lots of different issues. 

‘From missing people, to bullying to the BLM movement, the show has a lot of courage and takes on the juicy stuff, and the uncomfortable stuff that we don’t always want to pay attention to. 

‘I love that about the show, you get everything, it doesn’t discriminate against anyone and it is the people’s show.’ 

Glad: Alesha also spoke of BGT's support to Diversity after their BLM-inspired routine in last years seires, saying: 'I love that about the show... it doesn’t discriminate against anyone'

Glad: Alesha also spoke of BGT’s support to Diversity after their BLM-inspired routine in last years seires, saying: ‘I love that about the show… it doesn’t discriminate against anyone’

Controversy: Diversity's performance on the most recent series of Britain's Got Talent received 24,500 Ofcom complaints, making it the most complained about TV moment of the year

Controversy: Diversity’s performance on the most recent series of Britain’s Got Talent received 24,500 Ofcom complaints, making it the most complained about TV moment of the year

In a statement released last week, ITV said they’re hopeful the show will return later this year, but have delayed plans to start auditions later this month due to government restrictions.

They said: ‘The filming for the 15th series of Britain’s Got Talent has been postponed from its proposed record dates in late January.

‘With the announcement of the latest Government health guidelines and with our priority of safeguarding the well-being of everyone involved in our programmes we, together with the production teams at Thames and Syco, have taken the decision to move the record and broadcast of the forthcoming series.

On hold: Last week it was announced the show had been postponed until the autumn as COVID-19 lockdown scuppered plans for nationwide auditions

On hold: Last week it was announced the show had been postponed until the autumn as COVID-19 lockdown scuppered plans for nationwide auditions

They added in the statement: ‘We will confirm revised dates in due course.’  

It had been reported that bosses decided to delay auditions as they would be unable to film auditions with a live audience during current restrictions.

Sources also claimed that a vast production, with acts travelling from across the world to take part, wasn’t viable even though other TV productions have continued. 

Pushed back: In a statement, ITV said they're hopeful the show will return later this year, but have delayed plans to start auditions later this month (2020 winner Jon Courtenay pictured)

Pushed back: In a statement, ITV said they’re hopeful the show will return later this year, but have delayed plans to start auditions later this month (2020 winner Jon Courtenay pictured)

The delay comes just days after a source told MailOnline that BGT bosses had already settled on a UK location to film the auditions, following claims they were considering filming at different locations across the globe.

The source said at the time: ‘The auditions are currently planned for a venue at the end of January/early February.

‘Obviously if that’s not feasible safety-wise, producers will look at other options and contingencies.’ 

The Sun previously claimed performances would then be sent back via video link to the celebrity judges in the UK so bosses could still ‘put on a show’.

Not yet! This series was also set to mark the return of Simon to the judging panel, as he was forced to miss last year's live shows after breaking his back in a bike accident

Not yet! This series was also set to mark the return of Simon to the judging panel, as he was forced to miss last year’s live shows after breaking his back in a bike accident

England was placed in a third COVID-19 lockdown earlier this month, with residents ordered to stay at home unless for essential reasons.

However most television and film production is allowed to continue as long as COVID-19 regulations, such as the use of masks and regular testing, are followed. 

ITV bosses now face the challenge of replacing BGT in the TV schedule, with the show usually airing sometime in April after auditions are filmed in January and February.

Pushed back: Last year BGT was thrown into chaos by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the live shows delayed from May to September

Pushed back: Last year BGT was thrown into chaos by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the live shows delayed from May to September

Last year BGT was thrown into chaos by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the live shows delayed from May to September and aired in front of a virtual audience to ensure it was adhered to COVID-19 restrictions.

Some contestants were also unable to perform live in the semi-finals due to travel concerns, and Ashley took Simon’s place on the judging panel.

The auditions were able to air as planned in April as they were filmed before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The series concluded with singer Jon Courtenay crowned champion.

Back on screens: BGT also aired its first ever Christmas Special last month, with the judges all tested ahead of filming so they didn't have to maintain social distancing

Back on screens: BGT also aired its first ever Christmas Special last month, with the judges all tested ahead of filming so they didn’t have to maintain social distancing

BGT also aired its first ever Christmas Special last month, with the judges Amanda Holden, David Walliams, Alesha and Ashley all tested ahead of filming so they didn’t have to maintain social distancing.

It comes after it was reported last week that filming for the new series has been delayed for weeks because of COVID-19 rule changes. 

A source told The Sun: ‘Covid’s causing havoc with BGT filming. The producers want to keep viewers entertained and put a smile on people’s faces but the safety of the cast, crew and contestants is the priority.

‘It is at the centre of every decision. A live audience and their reaction is a vital part of the show’s success, too, so producers want to keep that element and, if it all means delays, then so be it.’ 

Plans: ITV bosses now face the challenge of replacing BGT in the TV schedule, with the show usually airing sometime in April after auditions are filmed in January and February

Plans: ITV bosses now face the challenge of replacing BGT in the TV schedule, with the show usually airing sometime in April after auditions are filmed in January and February

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