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

Herald Sun - Switched On - - News -

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.’’

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