Inside BGT judge Alesha Dixon's life off screen from Scottish roots to traumatic childhood

Alesha Dixon has become a household name since first making her mark on the UK music scene decades ago.

Her fame has since been catapulted by appearances on popular shows like Strictly Come Dancing and Britain's Got Talent.

Throughout her career, which spans from the 1990s, the 45-year-old singer, dancer and performer has consistently been at the forefront of the entertainment industry.

Alesha has worked with Simon Cowell on BGT for several years, forming a professional bond through the success of the ITV1 hit show.

As the programme returns for its 17th series, here's more about Alesha Dixon.

Scottish roots

Born in Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire to a Scottish mother and Jamaican father, Alesha's parents separated when she was just four years old.

In 2010, she created a touching BBC documentary, titled Don't Hit My Mum, which addressed the issue of domestic abuse from a child's perspective, following her own experiences with her mother's allegedly abusive partner.

Rise to fame in Mis-Teeq

Alesha was set to attend Loughborough University with her diploma in sports studies, but in 1999, she met Sabrina Washington at a dance school in Fulham.

The pair then recruited Su-Elise Nash and signed to Telstar Records, with ZZena McNally completing the four-piece that would become the UK garage/R&B girl group, Mis-Teeq, reports the Manchester Evening News.

The group's first album, 'Lickin' on Both Sides', soared to number three in the UK album charts back in 2001 and later achieved double platinum status.

The album spawned five top 10 singles including hits like 'Why', 'All I Want', and 'One Night Stand'.

Their follow-up album in 2003, 'Eye Candy', featured the smash hit 'Scandalous' which climbed to number two in the singles charts. Alesha Dixon also made a splash in 2004 by appearing in N. E. R. D's music video for 'She Wants to Move'.

By March 2005, Mis-Teeq released a Greatest Hits compilation and announced their split. Alesha went on to enjoy a thriving solo career, topping charts and hosting TV shows such as 'Alesha's Street Dance Stars' (2010), 'Your Face Sounds Familiar', 'Dance Dance Dance', and 'The Greatest Dancer'.

Alesha revealed that leaving the group was her own choice, citing the "intense" nature of their relationship after prolonged periods of touring and recording.

In a special Black History Month interview on Apple Music 1 in 2021, she opened up about the band's breakup, saying: "I spent several weeks debating it with my close people, it wasn't a decision that I made lightly but we got offered another deal, we got offered a major deal.

"I knew if I signed that deal, I'd be tied into the group for several more years. I thought, 'Here's a clean out. Here's a way out without me having to fight. I can just walk away.'

"It wasn't that I wanted to be a solo artist. It wasn't that I was in the group thinking, 'It's my time now'. I genuinely needed time out.

"It was a really intense eight years of my life, and it changed my life. Had I been happy, because to me well-being is more important, I would have stayed."

Alesha has candidly reflected on her departure from the girl group, insisting it wasn't a desire for solo stardom but a need for a break that led to her exit.

"It wasn't that I wanted to be a solo artist. It wasn't that I was in the group thinking, 'It's my time now'. I genuinely needed time out," she revealed.

The star opened up about the pressures of fame and how it took a toll on her happiness, leading to her decision to leave.

"It was a really intense eight years of my life, and it changed my life. Had I been happy, because to me well-being is more important, I would have stayed," Alesha explained.

Strictly Come Dancing success

Her stint on Strictly Come Dancing in 2007 with dance partner Matthew Cutler not only won her the glitterball trophy but also launched her into the spotlight, reviving her music career with the album 'The Alesha Show' and the hit single 'The Boy Does Nothing'.

In a twist of fate, Alesha returned to Strictly Come Dancing, this time as a judge, taking over from Arlene Phillips in 2009.

Despite her third album 'The Entertainer' not achieving commercial success, she remained a beloved figure on the show until 2012.

Alesha Dixon and Matthew Cutler
British girl group Mis-Teeq

Reflecting on her journey with Strictly, Alesha said: "Winning Strictly Come Dancing changed my life. It came into my life at a time where I needed a lift, I needed something positive. And it really was the tonic that I needed."

She cherishes her five-year association with the show, saying: "For about five years, Strictly Come Dancing was a huge part of my life. It was just a wonderful experience that I will hold dear to me for the rest of my life."

Switch to Britain's Got Talent

Alesha then made a high-profile switch to Britain's Got Talent, showcasing her versatility and further cementing her status as a television favourite.

Alesha succeeded Michael McIntyre as a judge on the show in 2012, sharing the panel with Simon Cowell, David Walliams and Amanda Holden.

Despite joining an already popular show, Alesha continued to produce music; her most recent album, 'Do It for Love', was launched in 2015.

Alesha found huge success after Strictly -Credit:PA
Alesha found huge success after Strictly -Credit:PA

Apart from BGT, she has also judged talent on shows like The X Factor, Australia's Got Talent, America's Got Talent: The Champions, RuPaul's Drag Race UK and Walk The Line.

While reflecting on her BGT journey during a conversation with Press Association in 2018, she confessed: "I love it. I've been there seven years and have actually surprised myself that I'm still doing it.

"I say that, because I can get bored quite quickly I'm a person who's always looking for the next creative venture.

"If it ever came to an end, I would genuinely be upset, because I've had the time of my life doing it."

The star further added: "Every year we worry and think, 'Hmm, maybe Britain has run out of talent', but we've been spoilt for contestants this year.

"Each series we put more pressure on the acts and expect more from them I suppose the public also do to a certain extent. This year's been great though; I think the viewing public are in for a really good show."

Alesha went on "Amanda and I are great friends and love having fun with the clothes mine are always a bit quirky and edgy. I've learnt to have more of a sense of humour about the crazy acts too, which I never liked before. I'm so much more laid-back as a judge.

"The acts I really don't like are where people put themselves physically at risk... your heart's in your mouth, especially when somebody is underwater or performing with knives or fire. I have to say 'yes' to them, because what they're doing is skillful and technically brilliant, but I find it really tough to watch."

Love life and motherhood

Alesha was once married to MC Harvey from So Solid Crew, but their relationship ended in November 2006 after 17 months of marriage.

She later found love with her now-husband Azuka Ononye, a dancer, creator, director and choreographer who has worked with artists such as Sade, Whitney Houston, Madonna, Duffy, Pixie Lott, Estelle, Ashanti and Cheryl.

Speaking on Giovanna Fletcher's podcast, Alesha shared about their relationship: "He was the first person that I'd met, that I knew that we could have children together because of our values, our morals, our thinking aligned... The thought of having children with someone who could do something toxic or show them something toxic that I saw as a child frightened me more than anything in the world".

After first meeting on tour, Alesha admitted that she initially "played hard to get for about a year", but soon fell for him after he showed his caring side when she broke her foot.

She recalled: "He was literally sleeping on the floor looking after me every day."

In 2013, the couple welcomed their first child, a daughter named Azura Sienna, before tying the knot in 2017.

They then expanded their family with the birth of their second child, Anaya Safiya, in 2019.

When asked about parenthood, Alesha told the Press Association in 2018: "Azura's amazing I have such unconditional love for her. Every day I try to be the best and most patient version of myself, so that I parent her well."

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