Courting those international markets with ever greater ferocity.
Des Bishop & Giulia Dotta So yes, Ireland has it’s own Stricly Com…sorry, Dancing With The Stars now. After five male winners of the Voice : Ireland out of five, three of whom were mentored by someone called “Bressie” (presumably the Irish Loch Ness Monster?), Ireland decided to make a clean break with the spinny chairs and took a chance on doing their own version of Strictly, even with the memories of “Celebrity Jigs’N’Reels” fresh in their mind. And as a Strictly afficianado with…well not that much time on my hand, I’m getting married soon, so these may be sporadic…but as a Strictly afficianado with a PASSION for spangles, sequins and yelling about overscoring, I have decided to investigate. The first contestant out was Des Bishop who is a stand-up comedian
as you can tell from this picture. What a cut-up! Des was born in London, raised in New York, and then moved to Ireland in his early 20s to do a comedy act apparently based around yelling about “DE IMMERSION HEETER” in a variety of different Irish accents and hitting on audience members. Ah, localised humour. You could feel the show leaning on Des throughout a little, perhaps unfairly, trying to poke him into being more funny, presumably to try to shore up the fact that they’d given their hosts (Nicky “Eurovision Semi-Finalist And The One At The Back Of Westlife” Byrne and Amanda “I hosted The Swan and Paradise Hotel This Is Nothing” Byram) a script made up of all the pauses for laughter from a Strictly script and none of the jokes. His first dance was a slightly stilted tango to Tanguera, complete with stereotypical table bashing and ending with a slap from his professional partner. He scored 18, which sounds worse than it is, because part of the show’s budgeting is that they’ve only got three judges – The Level-Headed Female One, The Harsh One, And The Your Wheezy Old Uncle Doing A Bruno Impersonation Before Running Out Of Breath Twenty Seconds In One.
Hughie Maughan & Emily Barker : This next one is the only contestant on the male half of the draw I’m familiar with as a UK viewer, because I watched all of last year’s Big Brother and I refuse to be shamed. Hughie finished 2nd, and as he told us not unsmugly, “some people even thought I should have won”. Yes, I presume those would be the people who voted for you to win. Those people. On Big Brother Hughie was mostly known for shouting and getting wanked off by a guy who looks like a startled chihuahua, and is also, as a gay member of the Traveller community, providing all of the show’s diversity quota in one package. A package that finished bottom of the leaderboard and probably antagonised the viewership by not knowing quite when to shut up at any point, so I’m not sure how much longer the show is going to remain PC. In fairness his dance (a cha cha by way of DA CLUB to “King” by Years & Years) probably deserved slightly better than to finish dead last although who knows how many points were docked for the moment when his pro (Midlands Goddess, impossibly perky) almost stacked it in the middle of the dance. Only two dances in and the dancers are already Ian Waite’ing themselves, marvelous.
Aidan O’Mahony & Valeria Milova : This one is a GAA footballer. And that’s not just me making the noise I always make whenever football comes up for discussion, as apparently GAA stands for “Gaelic Athletic Association”, an organisation responsible for all sports that are a bit Irish-like. He’s here to be awkward and sporty and come out of himself by opening an extra button on his shirt in Week 5 and discovering depths of sexual feeling he never knew he had all over the dancefloor. I think my favourite, and the most indicative part of the Aidan O’Mahony experience was when his pro partner asked him to show her a Gaelic Football trick and he just…kicked the ball. At her. I’m presuming Gaelic Football is not exactly a sport of finesse and silky skills? This slight awkwardness translated onto the dancefloor, as his salsa (to “Fireball”) featured a good 30 seconds of him and Valeria fighting viciously over a football, 30 seconds of not too atrocious bum wiggling, and 30 seconds of him hinging repeatedly at the waist, poking his neck forward into a crouch and stomping about like an emu. At this, The Harsh One decided to prove that his DNA isn’t 100% Revel-Horwood as he lept to his feet like Karen Hardy on It Takes Two to demonstrate
what hunching over looks like. The Level-Headed Female One was ASTONISHED, look at her. She’s never seen the like. (Don’t ask me what colour jacket that’s supposed to be on The Wacky One, but it’s the same colour as the sofas dotted around the studio) (Yes they get sofas I’m so jealous)
Des Cahill & Karen Byrne : Yes in a cast consisting of only five males, they’ve managed to get two guys named Des. So Irish. Des is a sports commentator, and whereas now on the BBC you can’t get on Match Of The Day unless you’ve got pearly white teeth, a semi-athletic physique, and a beard trimmed to the appropriate metrosexual style, Des Cahill appears to be a proper throwback to the good old days of Grandstand when all the opinion formers turned up with two and a half eyebrows roaming their foreheads and with the gravy from a Fray Bentos encrusted on the sleeves of their moss green pullovers. In all fairness though, he seems a decent sort, and is paired with my favourite female pro of the show so far (favourite because she seems like she could get rude given half the chance), so it’s a shame that his dance, a foxtrot to Moondance that looked like a man trying to hail a taxi in The Castro, capped off with him
terrifyingly launching himself at the camera like a dodo trying to take flight, marked the point in the show where I realised I was going to have to make a trade-off in terms of the level of dancing on offer on the show, because even more than on a standard Strictly split-gender week it was obvious that these guys weren’t exactly going to come out of the gates running. On the one hand I guess it’s a paean to what the show is “supposed to be about” – celebrities out of their comfort zome learning to come out of themselves – on the other…I’m not sure whether I can sit through 7 more weeks of Desy here making Judy Murray look like Twyla Tharp. And he seems like the LOL-LEGEND type, so I’m fully expecting it.
Dayl Cronin & Ksenia Zsikhotska : Thankfully, Dayl was here to save the day, in the name of PURITY OF DAHCNE. Dayl (pronounced “Eoghan Quigg With An Updo”) is part of HomeTown, Louis Walsh’s latest pet project, a boyband whose entire output I am fairly confident can be accurately represented with this shot from one of their videos
(they’re up there somewhere), and whose career highlights so far have been two Irish Number 1s and opening up for Olly Murs. On tour. As co-performers. Ahem. To his credit Dayl was unabashed about his ringerness, bragging about being the dancer of the group, and so what better way to start as a young hip funky-fresh boyband member than with a MODERN CHARLESTON to CALVIN HARRIS with LASERS and A HIP HOP TWIST which was danced quite well, if not quite to the scoring levels it received (under OUR system it would have got 31, which feels…kind). The Harsh Judge was APPALLED by the INAUTHENTICITY. The Pseudo-Bruno was DELIGHTED BY THE ENTERTAINMENT BECAUSE IT’S AN ENTERTAINMENT SHOW They proceded to have an in no way embarassingly scripted fight about it whilst The Level-Headed Female Judge looked on
being Level-Headed And Female. It all felt a bit much for Week 1 to be honest to be pushing this level of storylining on me for a couple where I was still trying my level best to work out to pronounce the female pros name and have it not come out like the noises that guy makes at the start of “Circle Of Life” from The Lion King. He finished top of the leaderboard, and there then followed a good 30 minutes of filler because this show has not yet found out how to pace itself. Yes, they made five dances last for 1 hour and 40 minutes somehow. The ladies are next week, at which point hopefully we’ll have found a balance.