RTÉ commissions Irish version of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’

‘Dancing with the Stars’ will replace axed ‘Voice of Ireland’ on Sunday nights in 2017

Television viewers in Ireland will be given another chance to learn their jive from their cha-ch-cha in the new year, as RTÉ One airs the first Irish series of the BBC entertainment hit Strictly Come Dancing.

The celebrity dancing competition will be titled Dancing with the Stars, the international name for the series, which is one of the BBC's biggest commercial exports.

The series will see eleven “well-known celebrities” and their professional dance partners tackle one or more choreographed routines on each show. The bottom couple is then eliminated each week until the eventual winners lift the “glitterball trophy”.

Paso Doble lessons

Time will be as tight as the lycra dancing costumes for any would-be participants who fancy squeezing in some secret Paso Doble or Viennese waltz lessons ahead of the show’s launch in early 2017. A spokeswoman for RTÉ said the celebrities, presenters and judges had not been chosen yet as the deal with the BBC has only recently been completed.


RTÉ's Dancing with the Stars is expected to be broadcast live and feature a public phone vote as well as the scathing assessment of a panel of judges, in accordance with the format rules. A venue has yet to be confirmed.

The show will be produced by Shinawil, the independent production company led by Larry Bass that has made RTÉ's the Voice of Ireland, another local version of an international entertainment format, for the past five years.

The Voice of Ireland will not be returning for a sixth series in 2017 and Dancing with the Stars will take its place in a "refreshed" Sunday evening slot.

"Family entertainment shows are a cornerstone of what RTÉ One is all about," said RTÉ One and RTÉ2 channel controller Adrian Lynch.

"We are delighted to be bringing such a hugely popular format as Dancing with the Stars to RTÉ One. The show has been a global phenomenon, attracting huge audiences wherever it has aired and we are confident that Irish audiences will take this home-grown version to their hearts."

BBC licence

Its commission follows more than a decade of singing contest formats that showcased the talents of a hopeful public, rather than celebrities. Before the Voice of Ireland, RTÉ ran the All Ireland Talent Show, and before that its offering was You're a Star.

The BBC has licensed the Dancing with the Stars format to more than 50 countries including the US, Australia, South Africa, India, New Zealand, Italy and Columbia. In the US, the next season to air will be the 23rd, while in Australia, the next season will be the 16th.

"We're thrilled that RTÉ will be airing Dancing with the Stars, as this format is loved all across the world," said Sam Tewungwa, BBC Worldwide's commercial director of TV sales for the UK and Ireland.

“We continue to get such great feedback from every country where it airs, so we can’t wait to see how the Irish audience respond to it.”

Although Top Gear is the biggest money-spinner for BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the public service broadcaster, Dancing with the Stars is considered one of its "mega-brands", alongside Doctor Who and the Great British Bake Off format.

The BBC's Strictly Come Dancing, which is due to return for its fourteenth run in the autumn, airs across Saturday and Sunday nights and also has a weekday tea-time spin-off series, It Takes Two. The show, which began in 2004, is credited with a revival in ballroom dancing participation in the UK and in recent years has beaten ITV's the X Factor in the ratings.

Presented by Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman, Strictly (as it is known to its fans) has featured several Irish celebrities over the years, including a valiant effort in 2015 by singer Daniel O'Donnell. Bray dancer Tristan MacManus appeared as a professional on several seasons of both Dancing with the Stars in the US and Strictly itself.

RTÉ will be hoping its version of the show is a sequinned success and doesn't wind up what acidic judge Craig Revel Horwood might call "a dance disaster, darling".

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics