Oti Mabuse to take on old bosses at Strictly as ITV use The Masked Dancer star as weapon in Saturday night ratings war

ITV is set for a ratings war on Saturday nights with hit show The Masked Dancer set to go head-to-head with Strictly Come Dancing.

The scheduling clash will pit former BBC star Oti Mabuse against the show she made her name on — and which has her sister Motsi as a judge.



Two-time Glitterball trophy winner Oti, 31, will again join the panel for the second series of The Masked Dancer this autumn while Strictly returns for its 20th series.

A TV insider said: “This is a real fight for dominance of Saturday night ratings — and having Oti on the other side will really rub salt in the Beeb’s wounds.

“It’s the kind of clash that hasn’t been seen in four years, back when  ITV’s The X Factor last aired and used to compete with Strictly every week.

“ITV has a brand that is a tried-and-tested ratings winner again — but up to now it hasn’t been pitched directly against Strictly.

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“But after a successful run of The Masked Dancer over a week last year, bosses clearly feel confident enough to let the two dance contests go head-to-head.”

Signing South African Oti again also confirms ITV’s commitment to keeping her on board, even though this week she hinted she might return to Strictly on BBC One.

She quit as a pro dancer this year amid rumours she had become too big for the contest. She won in 2019 with soap star Kelvin Fletcher and again the following year with comedian Bill Bailey.

For the past five months, Oti has judged ITV’s Dancing On Ice and fronted its new dating show Romeo & Duet.

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She will join Davina McCall, Jonathan Ross and host Joel Dommett for the eight-episode series of The Masked Dancer.

There is no set date for the show’s return to our screens but it is expected in the autumn.

Once again, the celebrity panel will have to work out which famous people are hiding inside the dozen bizarre costumes.

Speaking as the announcement of her return was made, Oti said: “I love being a part of the show. It was such a highlight.

“I take my hat off to the celebrities — they make dancing in those huge but wonderful costumes look effortless. I’m so excited to see this year’s characters.”

Oti’s other TV work includes an appearance on Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway on ITV and RuPaul’s Drag Race on BBC Three.

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In January, she fronted the BBC Radio 4 series Oti Mabuse’s Dancing Legends.

She has also filmed the BBC documentary Oti’s South African Odyssey, set to air later this year, and yesterday started her I Am Here UK dance tour, which is due to run until the middle of July.

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