Got to Dance



Davina McCall


Ashley Banjo (all series)
Kimberly Wyatt (all series)
Adam Garcia (2009-12, 2014)
Aston Merrygold (2013)

Web coverage (Got to Dance Backstage):
Matt Bell (2011)

Spin-off coverage (Got to Dance Auditions Uncut):
Will Best (2012)
Jordan Banjo and Perri Kiely (2013)


Shine TV / Princess Productions for Sky 1, 20 December 2009 to 29 August 2014 (70 episodes in 5 series)

Live final simulcast on Sky 3D (2012-3)


Davina McCall oversees a series of nationwide auditions (well, London, Edinburgh, and Manchester anyway), as the show attempts the find Britain's best dancer(s). The auditions take place in glorified tents, the dance domes, with each competitor having just a few minutes on stage to impress the judging panel - Ashley Banjo of Britain's Got Talent winners, Diversity, Hollywood actor, and member of the Tap Dogs, Adam Garcia, and Kimberly Wyatt of girl group, the Pussycat Dolls. Unlike the BBC's similar show, there is no age limit for the participants, and groups as well as solo dancers are allowed to compete.

After each act has performed, with no conferring, the judges each press a yes or a no button on the desk in front of them. The buttons correspond to three stars on the front of the judges desk. A yes vote will turn that judges star gold, a no vote will turn it red. Each act needs two or more gold stars to progress to the judges shortlist. After the result is revealed, the judges offer their critique to the acts, before they leave the stage for a congratulatory/commiseratory hug with their friends and family. During the auditions, the show does stray just a little into the so-called ‘sob stories’ of some of the contestants, but doesn’t become completely bogged down in them like other talent shows have been known to do.

After the auditions are complete, the judges work together to whittle their shortlist of 100 acts down to just 18, who will take part in the live semi-finals. Due to the number of street dance acts, an additional audition took place with six acts taking part in a head-to-head in order to win one of the final three places, and join the other 15 acts in the semi-finals.

In the semi-finals, each week, six acts perform, After each performance, the judges offer their comments, and indicate by way of the gold or red stars, whether they think the act in question is deserving of a place in the final. However it is the public who decide who progresses to the final by way of a phone vote, which unusually for such a programme uses standard landline numbers, not premium rate numbers. While the votes are tallied, each week, one of the judges takes a turn at displaying the dancing skills that helped make them famous. This makes for a nice contrast with the judges on other talent shows who typically remain behind the desk. At the end of each semi-final, the two acts with the most public votes move on to the live final.

During the final, each of the six acts performs again. This time the judges give gold stars to those acts they feel are deserving of the £100,000 prize and the title of Got to Dance champion. Red stars are issued to those acts the judges feel haven’t quite delivered enough. After all six acts have performed, the phone lines are opened, and the public have their say. After a short period of voting, a vote reading is taken, and the three acts with the fewest votes are eliminated. The remaining three acts then perform one more time, reprising their semi-final winning performances. The judges once again issue gold or red stars, before the phone lines briefly open one final time. After the phone lines have closed, and the votes have been totalled, the winner is revealed, and they are crowned Got to Dance champion, and, take home the £100,000 prize.

When it was first announced, the programme on face value seemed like it would be little more than a cheap copy of other talent shows, perhaps most notably So You Think You Can Dance (the British version of which was announced after Got to Dance, but oddly enough ended up coming to our screens at almost exactly the same). However the reality couldn’t be further from that, with plenty to commend, and very little to dislike.

The production values on the programme are high throughout. Money has been spent on the programme, and it shows. This isn’t something that has been quickly thrown together. All three members of the judging panel are likeable, and there aren’t any of the normal TV judging panel clichés such as 'the nasty one' for instance. In addition, all are well qualified to be there, meaning their critique is worth listening to, with none of them being afraid to tell competitors when they haven’t delivered. Davina McCall is her usual competent and exuberant self, compereing the show with the same enthusiasm as she puts into any other show. Perhaps one negative was that so few older acts made it to the final (the eldest finalist was just 16), however that decision was in the hands of the public and is not one that can be levelled against the show itself. In short, Got to Dance is a textbook example of how to create a successful TV dance competition, and has rightly become a ratings winner for Sky 1.

Series 2

The programme returned in January 2011 (albeit preceded by a preview show in December 2010), with Davina returning as presenter, and all three members of the judging panel also returning. Although keeping the same host and judges, clearly buoyed by the success of the first series, several changes were made for the second run, each making the programme bigger. Firstly, the audition tour for the second series was much closer to a proper 'nationwide' tour than the first series. As well as re-visiting London and Manchester, initial auditions in front of producers also took place in Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool, Cardiff, Birmingham, Bristol, and Dublin. However like in the first series, the dance domes and the judges only turned up in three locations - London, Glasgow, and Dublin. Secondly, more acts were put through to the live stages, resulting in seven acts performing in each of four semi-finals, in front of a 1000-strong studio audience - the largest ever UK TV studio audience according to Sky. The final change saw the winner of the second series walk (or dance we suppose) away with an increased prize of £250,000 - the largest prize ever offered on a UK talent show, again according to Sky.

In addition to the above changes, the second series also saw the introduction of the Got to Dance bursary fund. This fund, worth £15,000, was to be distributed amongst auditionees that the judges felt weren't yet good enough to progress in the competition, but whom they felt had real potential, and was to be used to enable them to develop and cultivate their dance skills through professional tuition.

Similar to the street dance head-to-head additional audition seen in the first series, the second series saw eight acts, two each from different styles of dance, take part in the call-backs, where the judges asked them to perform again, before one act from each style was put through to the live finals. At least that is what should have happened. However, with the judges unable to choose between body poppers Chris and Adam, they decided to put them together as a duo, performing under the name Liquid Metallic.

Later series

The third series played out much the same as its predecessor, however it did see the replacement of the web-only spin-off programme Got to Dance Backstage, with Got to Dance Auditions Uncut, a half-hour week night programme, showing, as the names suggests, additional audition footage.

For the fourth series, original judge Adam Garcia was replaced by Aston Merrygold, member of X Factor runners-up JLS. It also became a requirement to receive a gold star from all three judges in order to progress from the open auditions stage, rather than just the two out of three stars it had been in all previous series.

The fifth series saw more changes, starting with all of the open auditions taking place at the Roundhouse in Camden, north London. This saw the end of the dance domes, which had previously traveled the country allowing people to audition closer to home. The series also saw the return of original judge Adam Garcia. The format was also tweaked, so for the first time, the judges would each select a team of contestants, and mentor them through the later stages of the competition. The series also aired in August, rather than its usual January berth, ostensibly because presenter Davina McCall was busy in Austria in January 2014. Finally, the semi-finals were stripped across a week, rather than being a weekly event, and all the semi-finals took place at the London Olympia, rather than being studio-based.


2010 Akai Osei
2011 Chris & Wes
2012 Prodijig
2013 Lukas McFarlane
2014 Duplic8, as mentored by Adam Garcia


The programme was originally announced as Just Dance, however it was re-named before airing to avoid a trademark clash.

In March 2010, an American version of the show was ordered by CBS. It subsequently aired from January 2011 under the title of Live to Dance, with Got to Dance judge Kimberly Wyatt appearing on the judging panel.

The series was to have been supported by a three-day live event, the imaginatively titled Got to Dance Live at London's ExCel Centre in March 2011. However the event was postponed in February 2011, with Sky claiming it was to allow more time for the concept to be developed properly. Unnamed sources cited poor tickets sales as the reason for the postponement however.

The final of all series, except the first, have been held at the London Olympia, in front of an audience of 6,000 people.

Tobias Mead, who formed one half of 2014 winners Duplic8, previously reached the final of Britain's Got Talent in 2010, as a solo dancer.

Web links

Wikipedia entry

See also

So You Think You Can Dance


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