Dancing with the Stars 2018: Everything you need to know

The hit show from last year is back with a cast of new ‘celebrities’ ready for murder on the dancefloor

Dancing with the Stars: second series begins on Sunday. Photograph: RTE

Dancing with the Stars: second series begins on Sunday. Photograph: RTE


Each Sunday – well for the next 13 weeks anyhow – your end-of-weekend fear will be soothed by the presence of vaguely famous stars and their spangly professional partners on Dancing with the Stars. Taking to the dancefloor for our enjoyment are well-known faces from the world of broadcasting, business and sport, the odd musician and people your niece follows on Instagram.

The “celebs” will battle it out each week for the coveted glitter ball trophy and er, the pride of the nation. Along they way they’ll have to figure out their paso doble from their tango, with a new dance to learn each week, before performing live on telly.

The show is being filmed in Ardmore Studios in Bray and despite some audience disappointment last year that, unlike BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, there was no in-house band, the bad news is we’ll still have to put up with recorded tunes.

The first two weeks are a jovial time with no eliminations before it turns into an all-dancing bloodbath. From week three onwards things could get ugly, as one couple will be eliminated by way of the public vote and the judges’ scores.

The judges are the tried and tested from last year: dancer and coach Brian Redmond, Irish ballroom dancing champion Loraine Barry and choreographer Julian Benson. However, due to illness, Benson will not be on the first two shows and Strictly Come Dancing champion Darren Bennett will sit in on the panel instead.  

Who is in it this year?

Marty Morrissey (59) and Ksenia Zsikhotska

The GAA correspondent, commentator and Cork man is bound to boost his national treasure status as he is taken under Zsikhotska’s wing. It could be hard to stop this partnership, Ksenia made it to the semi-final with HomeTown singer Dayl Cronin. In the real world of dancing with her partner Ryan McShane (see below), she is a UK and British Closed Latin Professional champion.  

Jake Carter (19) and Karen Byrne

Singer-songwriter Jake Carter is this year’s youngest contestant and while his name may not ring any bells, his older brother Nathan might be known to you. The Liverpudlian’s partner Karen Byrne created the trademark ‘Dessie Swim’ dance move with RTÉ broadcaster Des Cahill, which saw Karen ride Dessie like a dolphin across the floor in week four. We can only pray for something similar this year.

Erin McGregor (36) and Ryan McShane

Brother of The Notorious Conor, the former fitness model, current Instagram gas hun and the person responsible for styling her brother’s man bun, is teamed up with Latin pro Ryan McShane, who made it to the final last year with Denise McCormack.

Robert Heffernan (39) and Emily Barker

Olympian (ooh!) Robert Heffernan won Ireland a bronze medal in the 2012 London Games 50km walking race. Let’s see if his walking shoes can transform into dancing shoes. Last year, his professional dancing partner Emily Barker was voted off in the first public vote with her celeb partner Big Brother contestant Hughie Maughan. Here’s hoping she goes the distance with Rob.

Maia Dunphy (41) and Robert Rowinski

Writer, broadcaster, television producer and general sound woman on Twitter, Maia Dunphy is paired up with the newest dancer on DWTS. He has competed in five series of the Polish format of the show, winning the final series.

Deirdre O’Kane (49) and John Edward Nolan

O’Kane is a staple in Irish telly and comedy. As the narrator of Gogglebox Ireland and the scene-stealing Debra in Moone Boy, her voice and general presence immediately means quality. Her dancing partner John Nolan made it to week 8 last year with RTÉ correspondent Teresa Mannion.

Bernard O’Shea (38) and Valeria Milova

Our second comedian in the batch, 2FM presenter and Bridget & Eamon star, writer and producer, Bernard O’Shea is teamed up with Valeria Milova who won last year’s series with former Kerry GAA star Aidan O’Mahony, placing them top of the betting board.

Anna Geary (30) and Kai Widdrington

She’s already a star on the camogie pitch but can the Cork player go for gold on the dance floor? Her dancing partner Kai Widdrington brought charm and charisma last year as Kathleen Lynch’s partner and we expect him to serve up some extra dazzle dazzle this year.

Tomás O’Leary (34) and Giulia Dotta

The former Munster rugby player and 2009 Grand Slam winning scrum-half will have to reset his footwork as a dancer and with the help of Giulia Dotta, who turned Des Bishop into an unexpected dancer extraordinaire (until he was unfairly voted off in week six), he’s bound to do very well in the series.

Norah Casey (58) and Curtis Pritchard

It’s very likely that business woman, entrepreneur and Dragon’s Den judge Norah Casey is in it to win it and with her partner Curtis Pritchard’s Ballroom and Latin Junior and Youth Champion past, and his experience on last year’s show as Thalia Heffernan’s partner, she stands a good chance.

Alannah Berine (20) and Vitali Milova
Naas women and Britain’s Next Top Model finalist is a late edition to the show. She is filling in for former Miss Ireland Aoife Walsh who had to pull out due to injuries. However, Beirne is in the good hands of dancer Vitali Milova who scored the highest points last year with his partner Aoibhín Garrihy. She may be a few weeks behind the rest of the dancers but Vitali won’t lead her astray.

What can we expect in the first show?

There will be no eliminations for the first two weeks, giving us time to get to know the  couples. This Sunday,  the men are up first to strut their stuff  with their partners  nd in week two, we will see what the women have to bring to the competition.

Where and when can you watch it?

Every Sunday from January 7th until March 25th, Dancing with the Stars will be on RTÉ One from 6.30- 8.30pm. With Amanda Byram and Nicky Byrne taking charge as presenters, they will help brighten up the gloomy months. And if you can’t get enough of the Sunday show, every Thursday at 9.30pm on RTÉ2 Bláthnaid Treacy will go behind the scenes on Can’t Stop Dancing for all the gossip.

What to watch for

In last year’s series, it was easy to spot a pattern in the votes, which proved to be true when Kerry footballer Aidan O’Mahony won. In spite of his wooden rhythm and flat footwork, he won the damn thing, leaving the deserving Fair City actor Aoibhín Garrihy (who had the highest scores throughout the competition) and Red Rock star Denise McCormack as runner-ups. Voters have an agenda. Let me rephrase that. GAA voters have an agenda. Don’t let this happen in 2018. Don’t dirty the good name of Dancing with the Stars with inter-county rivalries. Let the greatest dancer win, based on their merits alone.

Who’s going to win?

Based on personality alone, Marty Morrissey, Deirdre O’Kane and Bernard O’Shea  should do very well in the series but from past experience, if a contestant plays for a team – any team – on a county or national level, they will have the votes behind them. However, based on her popularity and fitness background, Erin McGregor may surprise us all and take home the glitter ball trophy.

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