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EXCLUSIVE: Jason Manford praises new Starstuck judge Shanaya Twain after she replaces Sheridan Smith on ITV panel
Jason Manford has praised his new Starstruck co-star Shania Twain – after she replaced Sheridan Smith on the ITV panel.
The 41-year-old comedian told MailOnline that country-pop sensation Shanaya doesn’t hold back on sharing showbiz anecdotes and mentioned the likes of Sam Smith, Lionel Richie and Taylor Swift during the show’s second series on Saturday night.
In an exclusive chat, Jason revealed he even got to perform with the That Don’t Impress Me Much singer, as well as alongside host Olly Murs and fellow judges Adam Lambert and Beverley Knight.
Jason Manford has praised his new Starstruck co-star Shania Twain – after she replaced Sheridan Smith on the ITV panel
Speaking at the Football For Change fundraising gala, held in partnership with MailOnline, on Thursday, Jason said: “We’ve just finished episode seven of eight so we have the last one next week.
“I sat right next to Shanaya Twain, which was just amazing. She is a legend. She brings knowledge and a sense of fun, but it has to feel like a free night for her in a way because of the pressure she’s under when she performs.
“She’s there for laughs – she’s paid, but she’s there because it’s fun. She knows everyone.
“She talks about Lionel Richie, Sam Smith and Taylor Swift like I would for Dave or Steve at the gym. She doesn’t mess anything up – it’s just her world.
Bafta winner Sheridan, who recently starred in film sequel The Railway Children Return and TV dramas No Return, Four Lives and The Teacher, left Starstruck after one series due to “scheduling conflicts with a new acting project”.
Father-of-six Jason teased a star-studded start to the upcoming series and even a solo performance from Shanaya of her brand new single Waking Up Dreaming.
He added: “There are several performances. We’re doing an opening act, me, the judges and Olly Murs.
“We all sing together, so I got to do a song with Shania Twain, Adam Lambert and Beverley Knight – we got to put something out.
“In this series, there are solo performances by guys who have albums out, so we got to hear Shania’s new single and everything like that, which was amazing.”
Jason, who wowed as Hedgehog in The Masked Singer, insisted that Starstruck, ITV’s reboot of Stars In Their Eyes, is not like other talent shows because contestants’ future careers are not dependent on whether they succeed in the competition.
He said: “It’s not like other talent shows where someone’s whole life depends on doing well. If nothing else, being on the show is the reward.
“The talent took off because a lot more people saw it. We’ve got Beyoncé’s, Meat Loaf’s and Shania’s!’
Jason enjoyed a “rare night off” on Thursday to support former Liverpool and England defender Jamie Carragher’s Football For Change gala.
He was joined by Coleen Rooney, Coronation Street stars Tina O’Brien and Samia Longchambon and former Love Island resident Scott Thomas, who all attended the star-studded night to raise money for charity.
Celebrity guests were treated to intimate performances from Spice Girls star Mel C and former Oasis rocker Noel Gallagher, who wowed the crowd with renditions of Wonderwall and Don’t Look Back in Anger.