Alesha Dixon says starring her pets in kids books is ‘way of keeping them alive’

Alesha Dixon said all seven of her children’s books have featured one of her beloved pets in a starring role, describing it as her way of “keeping them alive”.

The TV star’s latest instalment titled Luna Wolf: Animal Wizard, which came out on World Book Day on Thursday, features the dog she rescued from the RSPCA and owned for 13 years.

Appearing on Saturday Kitchen, the 44-year-old said: “I’ve done a lot of work over the years with animals, done lots of animal campaigning, I’ve always had rescue dogs, I’ve grown up with animals and it was a bit of a no-brainer.

Alesha Dixon book signing
Alesha Dixon at a book signing of her new children’s book Luna Wolf: Animal Wizard at Waterstones, Westfield London (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

“I love featuring anything that celebrates my heritage, people that I love. The main dog in the book is actually…based on my own dog Daisy that I had for 13 years that I rescued.

“So every book actually has featured one of my pets. It’s kind of my way of keeping them alive.”

She described having a “woof wagon” as a child, which her mother used to transport the dogs when the family went on a mini-break or long dog walks.

“I’ve always loved animals, had them close to me and I really wanted to put them at the front of the story. It’s an adventure, it’s got a bit of magic to it, animals in this particular book transform into super pets.

“So it’s an action-packed adventure but, of course, what I love to do in my children’s books is have these lovely subliminal messages. So there’s lots of things in the book about how to treat animals with kindness and respect,” she said.

Dixon, who shares Azura aged nine and three-year-old Anaya with Azuka Ononye, said of her eldest daughter: “She’s only just picked up my first children’s book a month ago which came out five years ago.

“I didn’t want to force her to read it, I wanted her to do it in her own time. She was a bit too young when it first came out, but she’s the perfect age for it. She likes it, she gives me honest feedback.

“She was very helpful with Luna Wolf: Animal Wizard, she even chose a couple of names in the book. I always base characters in my book on people I know. I’m inspired by people I know.”

Dixon also spoke about long-standing Britain’s Got Talent judge David Walliams, who was replaced on the panel by Bruno Tonioli, on the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen.

Tonioli, 67, was confirmed as the ITV show’s new panellist after weeks of speculation, and recently joined Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and Dixon during the auditions stage across the UK.

He replaced 51-year-old comedian Walliams, who had joined the judging panel in 2012 alongside Dixon.

Last year, Walliams apologised for making “disrespectful comments” about auditioning contestants during breaks in filming the show in January 2020.

Appearing on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen, Dixon said of former Strictly Come Dancing judge Tonioli joining the panel: “Being the family that we were for 10 years, it felt strange at the beginning, it’s like a new normal, a new energy. But Bruno did fantastically well.

“I think it’s quite difficult coming in as the newbie but he came with all his energy and pizzazz and the audience loved him.”

Flamboyant Italian dancer and choreographer Tonioli became renowned for his animated movements and charismatic on-screen presence during his 18 years on the BBC’s flagship dance show.

Britain’s Got Talent 2023 auditions – Manchester
Bruno Tonioli, Alesha Dixon, Amanda Holden and Simon Cowell arriving for the Britain’s Got Talent auditions 2023 (Peter Byrne/PA)

Dixon, who was a judge alongside Tonioli on Strictly for three series until 2011, said: “We had eight golden buzzers this year, which we’ve never had on any series, because the talent was that outstanding.

“Bruno pressed it within the first 10 to 15 seconds of the act. All the rules went out the window but actually that became the theme of the series. It was great.

“We just threw the rulebook out and it was like anything goes, which made it quite fun.

“Watching the show through the eyes of somebody new was quite sweet because obviously we’ve been there for so long now, it was lovely. It ticks all the boxes as usual.”

Now in its 16th series, Britain’s Got Talent will return to screens later this year as acts battle it out for the chance to scoop the £250,000 prize and perform at the Royal Variety Performance.

Dixon also spoke about her upcoming role hosting the Eurovision Song Contest alongside Ted Lasso actress Hannah Waddingham, Ukrainian singer Julia Sanina and returning favourite, comedian and talk show host Graham Norton.

She said: “I’m so honoured to be asked to be a part of the hosting line-up. It’s going to be so exciting this year, back in the UK, taking the reins from Ukraine and obviously want to represent their culture beautifully.

“I think it’s had a real revival. I think people are invested again, they care, particularly with Sam Ryder doing so well.

“It should be fun, and ultimately music unites people. There’s 160 million people watching around the world. I love live (TV), it doesn’t mean you don’t get nervous.

“You’ve always got to be slightly on the edge. There’s so much TV out there and I think when something is live in the moment, you feel that energy. I really look forward to that. And of course, I love music, so it’s a no-brainer for me.”

The international music show will take place at the M&S Bank Arena Liverpool in May after the city was chosen to host the competition on behalf of 2022 winners Ukraine following the Russian invasion.

Dixon added: “I got an email yesterday with a date for a script read, so I’m excited to get my hands on the script. I can’t wait.”