Now that we know our celebs a little bit better, it's time to start saying goodbye with the first elimination of this year's Dancing with the Stars going to Dragon's Den star Norah Casey and her partner Curtis Pritchard.
If there was a leaderboard for enthusiasm, entrepreneur Casey would be top of the charts but her paso doble couldn’t magic her passion into points.
But with that goodbye, at least we get to say hello to Julian Benson, aka Captain Sparkle, who rejoined Loraine Barry and Brian Redmond on the judging panel after missing the first two weeks due to illness. Unlike presenter Nicky Byrne, whose jokes seem to be getting worse with every week, Benson can actually deliver the cheese.
Star performers this week are comedian Deirdre O’Kane, rugby player Tomás O’Leary and model Alannah Beirne. O’Kane and her partner John Nolan earned 19 points for their tango to Roy Orbison’s I Drove All Night, which drives Benson to fits of praise. “That was tango-licious!” he exclaims.
Alannah Beirne and her partner Vitali Milova get 26 points for their saucy Charleston, with Redmond saying that her performance is up there with some of the performances they saw in last year’s final but O’Leary’s perseverance may just get him to the final. With a successful leap-frog over his partner Giulia Dotta’s head and 22 points, he’s on the right track.
Journalist Maia Dunphy and her partner Robert Rowinski had a lot to prove with their waltz after last week’s disappointing cha-cha. Dunphy relaxes into her moves and the judges soften up on their critiques, giving them 16 points.
The judges want more attack from GAA star Anna Geary and her partner Kai Widdrington. Redmond warns them to not get safe with their routines but with a score of 18 they’re safe until next week at least.
“It’s like doing the Leaving Cert every Sunday,” says 2FM presenter and general charmer Bernard O’Shea. Using Sister Sledge’s He’s the Greatest Dancer to his best advantage, he tones down the gimmicks and emboldens his salsa moves (and brightens up his wardrobe) with partner Valeria Milova. While his footwork isn’t as fluid as it should be, he’s a natural entertainer and the judges give him 17 points.
One man who should be a perfectionist on his feet is Olympic race walker Rob Heffernan but his tango with partner Emily Barker gets middling reviews and 18 points.
Barry says pop star Jake Carter’s quickstep lacks the drive to match his partner Karen Byrne and Benson advises him to Suck (in his tummy), Tuck (in his bum) and Drop (down his shoulders). His safe performance earns them 21 points.
Fitness coach, brother of Conor and what would appear to be a budding motivational speaker, Erin McGregor scores 22 for her Viennese waltz with Ryan McShane but the judges want more emotion from her. Benson wants her to believe in herself more but adds “hashtag fabulous forward slash loving your work”, which lessens the load of the other judges’ unenthused reviews.
Kicking off his cha cha with some lip syncing to James Brown’s I Feel Good, GAA broadcaster Marty Morrissey and Ksenia Zsikhotska are easily the favourites to win. Even if the judges score him eight points (the lowest score in Irish DWTS history) and hesitate to call his routine the cha cha, the Marty Party shows no signs of stopping. The self-proclaimed Godfather of Dance – he has the cape to prove it – may well outlast all the other celeb competitors.
The talent this year is at a very high standard so it looks as though every elimination will feel undeserved. Our celebs are setting a fast pace and we’ll soon see who has it in them to make it all the way to the final.