The Greatest Dancer judges: 5 things you never knew about Cheryl

From Girls Aloud and X Factor to Dance Captain on The Greatest Dancer - here are some surprising facts about Geordie national treasure Cheryl.

The Greatest Dancer’s judging panel has caused a bit of a stir with former Girls Aloud star Cheryl featuring in its line-up.

Acid-tongued Dancing on Ice judge Jason Gardiner called her signing “questionable” – but how much do we know about the singer and her dance credentials?

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She's been honing her craft since childhood

Cheryl - The Greatest Dancer

We all know Cheryl from her first TV audition on Popstars: The Rivals, where her life changed when she met her Girls Aloud bandmates.

But that early nervous performance was far from her first brush with stardom – she’d been preparing for greatness since she was a child.

Cheryl, who took part in dance shows and beauty contests, starred in a British Gas advert at seven years old and made a number of TV appearances as a dancer, including for 90s kids’ show Gimme 5.

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She trained with the Royal Ballet School…but hated it

Geordie lass Cheryl may have been a star in her hometown, but as a child she learned that the more highbrow end of the performing world could be impenetrable for a Northerner.

Her parents sent her to the Royal Ballet School’s summer programme for three years in a row from the age of nine, where she discovered some uncomfortable attitudes.

She told The Sunday Times Style magazine: “Hated it. Squashed the dream. It wasn’t me. I didn’t fit in. It was the first time I’d ever felt…class. I didn’t understand it. I just knew it was…different. And that they were…looking down their noses. If you like. But I couldn’t express it.”

She wants to share her good fortune around Newcastle

Cheryl - The Greatest Dancer

In 2015, Cheryl decided to give something back to the city where she grew up by launching Prince’s Trust charity project Cheryl’s Trust.

The trust funded a centre to support disadvantaged young people in the North East, and works alongside her other Prince’s Trust charity, The Cheryl Cole Foundation, which she set up in 2011 for the same cause.

She raised funds for the charities through prize competitions, dress auctions, and the sale of a limited edition chocolate bar in North East baker chain Greggs.

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Her pop career takes a back seat to her son

Cheryl’s son Bear, whose father is One Direction’s Liam Payne, was born in 2017 and she proudly admits he has completely changed her life.

Now, the singer is very clear about how the pecking order in her schedule goes – Bear, and then work is a few thousand miles below him.

Ahead of the launch of her 2018 single Love Made Me Do It, she told The Guardian: “If it goes in at 80, it’s time for me to move on with my life. I’m not going to jump around working hard and spending time away from my son for that.

“Is the juice worth the squeeze?”

She added: “Is it bad if I say that if I get another No 1 that’s great, and if I don’t that’s fine?”

Love Made Me Do It eventually charted at number 19.

Even she doesn’t know her surname

Cheryl - The Greatest Dancer

It’s been a showbiz conundrum for the last few years – what exactly is Cheryl’s surname these days?

We first met her as Cheryl Tweedy, she then married Ashley Cole and became Cheryl Cole before divorcing him and keeping her new name.

But when Cheryl married again in 2014, she became Mrs Fernandez-Versini, later dropping it when they divorced in 2016 and trying to go single name a la Madonna, Beyonce or Rihanna.

It doesn’t quite roll off the tongue in the same way though, and when The Sunday Times Style magazine asked what her current surname was, she admitted: "Honest to God, I don't know, I've had too many surnames. That's just the crazy choices I've made along the way."

The Greatest Dancer continues Saturdays at 8pm on BBC One.

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