Seasoned performer Bonnie Langford tells us about her upcoming role as a judge on Baby Ballroom, ITV’s latest talent search to find Britain’s hottest young ballroom dancers

Are you looking forward to being a judge on Baby Ballroom?
“I’m excited because it’s a ballroom dancing competition for under-12s, which has never been done on television. It’s great to put young people on TV doing something they love, and give them the chance to achieve something. I expect the costumes will be amazing, as mums and nans will have been busy putting together the sparkly outfits. There’ll be so many sequins, the audience will need sunglasses.”

Who are your fellow judges?
“Ray Quinn from The X-Factor and Pierre Dulaine, a world famous ballroom performer. His 10-week dancing programme is in many schools in America.”

Have you any previous experience of being a dance judge?
“I’ve done other competitions, but never ballroom, because it’s not really my area. I’m there as a general dancer and performer, having done it since I was young.”

Will you be dancing on the programme?
“Not unless they spring a surprise on me! This show’s about youngsters – I don’t want to take their glory.”

What will you be looking for in the dancers?
“Performance, energy, posture, timing in the footwork and partnership qualities. But the main thing I’m looking for is a chemistry and charisma that can’t be bought.”

Will it be difficult to be a tough judge as it’s a children’s contest?
“I don’t want the show to be too sugary and sweet because that would be awful. Kids don’t like that – they prefer constructive criticism. It’s important that we’re not patronising. But equally we want them to enjoy themselves, so we’d like to nurture them and treat them with respect.”

As a former child performer, what advice would you give to the young dancers?
“My advice would be to enjoy every moment, and seize it as an opportunity to experience being in the studio. But don’t get swept along by the attention, or be too worried about careers. They shouldn’t let this change their lives. They’ve got school, friends, home life – that needs to stay as stable as possible.”

Did you enjoy being a child performer?
“I had a fantastic time as a young person – all my memories are good. I’ve managed to keep my career going and I’m still doing what I love 40 years later. I’m proud of that. But I like to be seen for what I do today, not only the stuff I did yesterday. The great thing is that all the young people in this show will only know me for what I’ve done recently, like Dancing On Ice.”

Is there a prize at the end of the competition?
“I think there’s a trophy, but there’s no money, no record contract, no million pound flat in London or whatever. It’s simply about having something on your mantelpiece you can be proud of. I’ve got a trophy on my mantelpiece from Dancing On Ice. Every time I look at it I think about all those days I got up at six in the morning and that I achieved something.”

Baby Ballroom starts on ITV1 on Saturday July 28