The keys to being a good TV host, according to Cat Deeley of “So You Think You Can Dance,” are to love “chatting” and to be “nosy.”
Going into the eighth season of the Fox dance competition, Deeley says the personalities the show finds among the contestants, and that she draws out in interviews, are what make viewers keep coming back.
“I think dance is the narrative that runs through, but I think it’s down to the great characters that we find, and also the great casting that happens,” Deeley said in a conference call Wednesday.
“I also think the dancers are more aware now of what we need. It’s not just that you have to be the best technical dancer, you have to bring your personality, too. That’s star quality and that certain something special.”
The show was also missing an ear-splitting element last season and Deeley, for one, is glad for the shrieking judge’s return.
“Mary Murphy’s back and to be perfectly honest, I can’t wait,” Deeley said.
“She doesn’t take any rubbish from Nigel (Lythgoe). I think we’ve kind of missed her on the panel. I’m so glad the hot tamale train is rolling back into town, I can’t wait for some of the screams and the enthusiasm and the general witty retorts to Nigel.”
So far this season, the breakers and hip hoppers have stood out in early rounds of the show, Deeley said.
“They now understand that just being amazing at their own style isn’t enough, they have to be able to pick up other styles,” Deeley said of this season’s dancers compared to earlier season’s.
Besides mastering different styles, dancers have to be able to stand up under the grueling schedule of Vegas week and keep it together for live TV.
While some hosts might find live TV daunting, Deeley said her experience serves her well.
“Anything that could have ever happened has at some stage, from forgetting my lines to falling over to dropping a mike to whatever,” she said.
“The big thing is if you’ve had enough practice you’ll know that you can get yourself out of it. And if you can do that in a slightly goofy, self-deprecating charming way, even the mistakes endear the audience to you.”
Such live experience would be an asset to whoever ends up hosting Simon Cowell’s new “X-Factor” singing show, Deeley said. (Hmmm… did that sound like a job application?)
Deeley will also be getting worldwide live experience on CNN when she covers the royal wedding April 29, with an expected audience of 750 million viewers. “It’s definitely not a challenge I would run away from, because I think it’s going to be one of those moments where you turn around and go where were you when?”
“So You Think You Can Dance” will premiere at 8 p.m. May 26 on Fox.