Last night saw the beginning of RTE’s newest attempt at producing a big budget international format following on from The Voice Of Ireland and our take on variety talent shows with The All Ireland Talent Show. As I tentively took the steps to enter the studio last night I did not know what to expect from a usually underwhelming set design of Irish TV shows but I was beyond surprised.
Dancing With The Stars Ireland has exceeding all my expections from the set to the presenting talent and even down to our celebrities. The set is above and beyond prior “big budget” shows from the national broadcaster and is actually very similar to other international versions of the hit show with the swooping staircases, LED screens and image projection floor….. it was a great start to the day!
As the audience took their seats and we were briefed on what we could and couldn’t do, it felt no different to when I witnessed other versions of the show including Strictly Come Dancing in the U.K. which we will obviously draw comparisons to as it is the one we all watch religiously. Our version, produced by Shinawil, has been eagerly awaited since it was announced to replace the frankly lacklustre attempt at The Voice which we witnessed at this time of the year for the past few years. This is a welcome change but everyone was saying “surely this won’t be good, it’s Irish”.
OK we haven’t got the big names that the US or U.K. versions can pull in so stop complaining about that because we are a small island, these celebrities are ours, take them to your heart and enjoy it for what it is. However, we do have one major star on the show and I couldn’t believe how professional she is but also so down to earth, presenter Amanda Byram. Why she hasn’t been presenting this show in other countries before I do not know, she held the whole show together beautifully accompanied by her co-host, Westlife’s Nicky Byrne who brought the real Dub feel to the show.
So, the stage was set, presenters, stage and cameras in place, now time for curtain up on the biggest show for the Irish viewing public in a long time and we were not to be disappointed.
The opening routine ‘Putting On The Ritz’, as a choreographer myself I can say was pulled off to perfection with a glittering, glamorous showstopper from both the celebrities and their pro dancers. Choreographed by Lilia Kopylova who featured on the UK version in its early days alongside her husband Darren Bennett who is the creative director on our version, we really do have the best team working on our format of the BBC hit.
Now before I mention the celebrity dancers, we need to acknowledge the pro dancers, a mix of Irish and international performers with far too many titles to count, they are an incredible bunch. I was a little skeptical of what our pro’s may be like, surely you can’t blame me? But wow, out of all the versions I have seen I don’t think we have seen a more well balanced and professional looking ensemble. All quite young, fit and in their prime dancing ability, it showed in their group dance that they could hold the floor and command your attention.
Also a nod to the costume department who pulled out all the stops to make every performer look ‘on point’ and as shiny and glittery as possible.
Now onto our celebrities! Last night we were treated to the 5 guys performances as well as a group dance from the ladies. Up first was comedian Des Bishop who gave it pure aggression and tackled the dance head on to pull off a great first dance. Next up was Big Brother star Hughie Maughan who performed to Years And Years track King and although he didn’t reach the top of the leader board last night, he certainly wins the title for the most enthusiastic and energetic performance of the night!
We were then treated to the surprise of the night in Kerry GAA player Aidan O’Mahony who I am tipping as the dark horse of the competition. He attacked the floor with a performance to ‘Fireball’ and had everyone in the audience cheering him on. Up next was Dad of the ballroom, sports broadcaster Des Cahill who was totally out of his comfort zone but unlike what we all thought he could actually move.
So last up for the lads was friend of mine and early favourite, Hometown boy band member Dayl Cronin. Without doubt the best performance of the night with his fusion of Charleston and Commercial style performance set to a Calvin Harris track, where else would you find that on Sunday night TV?. Scoring the highest points of the night, Dayl I’m sure will be there for the 12 week duration.
Ou pro dancers then took to the floor in their spectacular group dance which blew everyone away as it was one of the best pro group dances I have seen on any of these kinds of shows. Modern, stylish, blends of styles and hot, what more could we have asked for?
Finally, we couldn’t have seen the lads without the ladies getting a shot but this week they got off lightly and could perform as a group. We saw a comedienne, a weather girl, two soap stars, a model and a doctor take to the floor in a full on girly routine which was full of fun and joy and the odd nervous face but it was the first night so it’s all good.
All in all, Dancing With The Stars Ireland has started off to a great start and looks to be a ratings hit for RTE. Finally we have a production to be proud of and one that I personally would love to get involved with at some stage down the line. Give me the call!
And keeep Dancing! (We need our own tagline….. maybe We Done It!)
Review by @Kenneth_Giles