While the Cat’s away
Cat Deeley was first choice for a US and Aussie hosting two-step, but clashing schedules scuttled the plan, writes Siobhan Duck
NATALIE Bassingthwaighte was not the first choice to host So You Think You Can Dance Australia. The producers had a different bubbly blonde in mind for the role before signing the former Neighbours actor to front the hit reality dance competition.
UK-born Cat Deeley, host of the American So You Think You Can Dance, says there was some talk of her also fronting the Down Under version. She would have loved an excuse to spend some time here — her brother lives in Sydney with his Aussie wife — but her schedule wouldn’t allow it.
‘‘They would have been filming it while we were in the middle of the audition process here and that’s the most integral part of the show,’’ she says.
‘‘When Nigel (Lythgoe, the show’s creator, producer and resident nasty judge) first offered the job, I said I would love to do it but wanted to be part of the audition process.
‘‘I didn’t want the contestants to turn up to the studio and see me for the first time going, ‘Who’s this English bird?’ ’’
Deeley (right), now filming the fourth season of SYTYCD in LA, has not had time to watch the Aussie version, which featured a guest appearance by US judge Mary Murphy.
‘‘I know it did amazingly well but I’ve not seen it because I’ve not been in Australia,’’ she says. ‘‘But I have followed its success — avidly. I love Australia. The people are so chilled out and friendly.’’
Though she has no plans to oust Bassingthwaighte, Deeley does hope to visit here in October when her sister-in-law is due to give birth to Deeley’s first niece or nephew.
In between hosting SYTYCD, Deeley is an entertainment correspondent for ABC news and has been working on a comedy drama series and a music interview series for UK TV.
Already a big star in the UK, where she had hosted several successful prime-time shows and won two BAFTAs, Deeley moved to America in 2005 to further her career.
When SYTYCD’s original host, Lauren Sanchez, left after season one to have her second child, Deeley got the call.
At the time Deeley was still a relative unknown in the US, but Lythgoe, also an expat, knew of her success at home and invited her to take over from Sanchez.
Deeley initially enjoyed anonymity in Hollywood, but with SYTYCD’s increased popularity, those days are almost over.
‘‘I can’t go to flea markets in my pyjamas any more— seriously, I did do that,’’ she says with a laugh. ‘‘But I can still go out horse riding or for a surf with no make-up on.
‘‘Don’t get me wrong, I love fashion. I like to get dressed up, wear heels and have my hair and make-up done. But I also like to get dirt under my fingernails.
‘‘I used to get more paparazzi attention in England and there’s definitely still some of that going on. But when you have Tom Cruise and Will Smith living down the road, you are very aware of who is going to be more interesting.
‘‘In LA I am surrounded by all sorts of people who are far more interesting than me.’’