'He's a gifted dancer': Davina McCall defends the decision to allow an autistic boy to audition for her new talent show

He's a ten-year-old little boy who fancies his chances on a new reality TV dance show.

But bosses of Got To Dance, which starts on Sky 1 this Sunday night, have been criticised for allowing James Hobley to audition because he suffers from autism.

In the aftermath of Britain's Got Talent contestant Susan Boyle's mental breakdown after the stresses brought on by the pressure of the show, there are fears that James may not be able to cope with the spotlight.

James Hobley

Got To Dance: 10-year-old James Hobley, who suffers from autism, auditions for the new Sky 1 show Got To Dance, which starts this Sunday.

But host Davina McCall defended the decision to let him perform.

She said: 'If James had been spectacularly bad and he’d been laughed at on stage, then I would have been very upset.

'But it’s not like that. James is a gifted dancer and, in fact, dancing has helped him in the most amazing way.

James Hobley

Flexible: James wows the judges with his energetic routine

James Hobley

Jump for joy: James leaps with enthusiasm during his Got To Dance audition

'He hasn’t been put in the firing line to be laughed at. Viewers will love him.

'I am very protective about anyone who goes onto any of the shows I do, including Big Brother. I would hate the idea that someone would be upset.

'I want people to enjoy the experience. We go out of our way to make sure the contestants, especially the kids, are looked after.

'If anyone cried at auditions I would rush out to comfort them or take them to their families.

James Hobley

Hopeful: James waits for the judges' verdict on his dance routine

'The judges on our show are also sensitive to the auditionees, especially the kids.'

And there are high hopes that James will make it through to the finals, after he performed a routine to the Blackout Crew’s BB Bounce and Evanescence’s My Immortal.

Davina McCall

Flashdance: Davina McCall recreates the film's audition scene for the Got To Dance advert. She defended the decision to allow James Hobley to dance on the show

From Redcar in Middlesborough, he is one of three autistic boys in his family, but wasn’t coping very well with the condition and had trouble communicating with others.

But three years ago, after the splints on his legs were removed, he got a new lease of life when a leaflet dropped through his door about dancing and he decided to take it up.

His family said this has significantly improved James’ mobility, he has started reading and writing more and his confidence has been boosted, which has helped him make more friends.

He also started taking ballet six months ago and now has the ambition to audition for the Royal Ballet.

Dubbed the X Factor of the dance world, Got To Dance will see Davina searching for the next big dance stars along with a panel of experts including Diversity's lead choreographer Ashley Banjo, Pussycat Doll Kimberly Wyatt, and Coyote Ugly and West End star Adam Garcia.

It starts on Sky 1 on Sunday at 6pm, a day after the BBC start their dance reality show So You Think You Can Dance.

Davina, who will also host the seventh and last series of Celebrity Big Brother on the same night on Channel 4 at 9pm, said: 'It’s tough having two dance shows on TV – but ours is different enough to get viewers.'

Kimberly Wyatt
Adam Garcia

The judges: Pussycat Doll Kimberly Wyatt and actor Adam Garcia will decide the contestants' fate