Dancing with the Stars: Glenda Gilson sinks like Titanic

Somehow, against all logic, Fr Ray Kelly stays afloat. He can’t survive much longer

Glenda Gilson and Robert Rowinski during the live show of Dancing with the stars. Photograph: Kyran O’Brien

Glenda Gilson and Robert Rowinski during the live show of Dancing with the stars. Photograph: Kyran O’Brien

 

There are miracles, and then there is Fr Ray Kelly’s ongoing participation in Dancing with the Stars. He somehow survives again this week despite a putrid paso doble with a Western theme that will have caused many viewers to question the wisdom of the Irish voting public and also the existence of god.

Against all logic and common sense he is spared. Instead movie night spells final credits for Glenda Gilson and her pro partner Robert Rowinski. And that despite their enthusiastically weepy ballroom interpretation of My Heart Will Go On from Titanic.

The performance finishes with Gilson stretched on a raft as Rowinski, in the Leonardo DiCaprio part, figuratively freezes to death off camera. They may wonder why they bothered.

This is hardly a knock-out turn by Gilson and the score of 18 from the judges places the TV presenter bang in the middle of the pack. It is, though, considerably more accomplished than Kelly’s Father Ted-on-ketamine prat-falling, to the strains of the Magnificent Seven theme.

It is so very deeply disturbing! When I closed my eyes a moment ago all I could see was Kelly skipping towards me, a solitary hoof-man of the apocalypse.

And to think we all expected to sit down to a safe and predictable movie night. Instead it turns out to be story of “frights, camera and action”.

Fr Ray Kelly with Pro dancer Kylee Vincent. Photograph: Kyran O’Brien
Fr Ray Kelly with Pro dancer Kylee Vincent. Photograph: Kyran O’Brien
Grainne Gallanagh and pro dancer Kai Widdrington. Photograph: Kyran O’Brien
Grainne Gallanagh and pro dancer Kai Widdrington. Photograph: Kyran O’Brien
Brian Dowling with pro dancer Laura Nolan. Photograph: Kyran O’Brien
Brian Dowling with pro dancer Laura Nolan. Photograph: Kyran O’Brien

With the entirety of cinema history to chose from, Lottie Ryan and pro partner Pasquale La Rocca decide to perform a salsa to … the Dora the Explorer jingle.

Why not go all in and breakdance to the Teletubbies theme? I’d watch. Unless it involves Fr Kelly. In which case, point me toward the nearest attic in which to cower.

“That was a blockbuster performance,” judge Brian Redmond tells Ryan. Yet it’s not all praise. “I would just like a moment to breathe,” says judge Loraine Barry, identifying a strand of over over-exuberance in the routine. Ryan nonetheless scores a sizzling 29, including the season’s first full marks, from Julian Benson.

Her Dora moment comes halfway through the episode. At that point, Brian Dowling and Laura Nolan have already raised the curtain with a Charleston to Fat Sam’s Grand Slam (pardon?) from Bugsy Malone.

“The storyline was superb,” enthuses Loraine Barry. “You both played it to perfection.”

“I would have like a little more extra Charleston content,” says Julian Benson.

“Fat Sam you certainly were ... Grand slam, I’m not so sure,” adds Redmond. Is he allowed to call people fat? Either way, Dowling scores 18.

They’re followed by the doomed Glenda Gilson with partner Rowinski.

“I felt I was on the Titanic. I was there with Jack and Rose as they went down,” says Benson, repeating his praise of Gilson’s legs and arms. He’s going miss those appendages!

Gráinne Gallanagh and Kai Widdrington tick off another big fat cliche as they salsa to (I’ve Had) the Time of My Life from …Terminator 2. No, of course it’s from Dirty Dancing, which is similar to Terminator 2 only noisier and more ludicrous.

They give it their best, even pulling off the iconic “lift” despite Gallanagh’s shoulder injury. It is almost enough to banish memories of Nicky Byrne whipping out his maracas a minute earlier (please leave your maracas out of sight for the rest of the season, Nicky).

“So beautiful – so true to the movie,” says Barry. “You looked like you were having the time of your life,” chimes Julian Benson. They score a stonking 21 – sufficient to briefly put them in the lead.

Boxer Michael Carruth is next. Can you guess what popular franchise he is taking to the floor with? No, not Harry Potter. It’s Rocky. He’s doing Eye of the Tiger by that band who sang Eye of the Tiger.

“Interesting” is the best way of describing the routine, which at a one points involves Carruth dragging pro dancer Karen Byrne across the floor. Fun!

“I would have liked a little bit more arch of the body – not quite the knockout,” say Barry. “The paso of a pussycat for me,” says Brian Redmond. “You are improving – you got most of the steps right.” Carruth scores 14 – not a knockout (yes, sorry) but an improvement on previous weeks.

The words B*witched and “timeless Hollywood glamour” don’t usually pop up in close proximity. And yet that is what Sinead O’Carroll brings as she and Ryan McShane quickstep to Get Happy from Renée Zellweger,’s Judy.

“Absolutely fantastic … It was excellent on point, lovely syncopation,” gushes Benson. “You are floating – you are Hollywood.”

“Very very good,” says Redmond. “Maybe a little bit hoppy in places but the song is called Get Happy, and for once I am too.”

There’s a hitch, though, as the voiceover dies, and Redmond has to prompt Loraine Barry to score the routine. The mishap is forgotten though as O’Carroll receives 24.

Redmond has complained about an over-reliance of gimmicks this year. Yet he’s in a forgiving mood as Mary Kennedy and John Nolan twirl through an American smooth, soundtracked by He’s A Tramp from Lady and the Tramp and featuring – here I quote the RTÉ press release – “a romantic plate of spaghetti”.

“I was concerned you might make a bit of a dog’s dinner of it … but you didn’t,” says Redmond. “Definitely going in the right direction.”

“Suave, elegant and sophisticated – and you did have an improvement in your frame,” says Julian Benson. “You looked like you enjoyed it.” Kennedy receives a much improved 19.

Can her fans in the audience please now stop chanting “Ma-ry ... Ma-ry” constantly? I can’t help but feel our licence fee is subsidising them somehow.

With just three dancers left, the final credits loom. Into the fray go Kilkenny hurler Aidan Fogarty – this season’s “heartthrob” says Nicky Byrne – and Emily Barker. They’re doing a tango to Into the Unknown from Frozen II (also called Frozen, Not As Good as the First One).

“Dark, dramatic intense … Your frame was box office,” swoons Julian Benson. “Tango is something male celebrities have struggled with, but not you,” says Brian Redmond. Fogarty receives a 26.

Every good movie has a moment of sheer, knuckle-whitening terror. And Dancing with the Stars doesn’t disappoint as Fr Kelly performs that aforementioned paso double to the Magnificent Seven theme.

“You did enjoy yourself – and it looked like it,” says Barry, who praises pro performer Kylee Vincent. “She was definitely a damsel in distress,” says Benson and then points to Fr Kelly. “You looked like you were shuffling buffalo.”

The padre receives a rootin’, tootin’’ nine. It’s his highest haul yet and sees him survive to unnerve us all another day

After that, we need a pick me-up. Perhaps that is why the producers have put the solid Ryan Andrews, of Fair City, and Giulia Dotta on last. They jive to Elton John’s Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting (from Rocketman).

“Off the charts,” says Barry. “Kicks and flicks sparking,” agrees Benson. “You did a super job there.” Andrews scores 28. But why didn’t he follow Nicky Byrne’s advice and propose to his girlfriend? She’s in the studio and everything! He mumbles something and the big dramatic moment is forgotten.

Four episodes in, the obvious frontrunners are Andrews, Lottie Ryan and Sinead O’Carroll, with Fogarty as potential dark horse.

But the real question is: for much longer will Fr Ray Kelly continue to serve up shudders on the dance floor? If he survives much further into the competition, we’re all going be watching with rosary beads.

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