Des Cahill, Des Bishop, Teresa Mannion in ‘Dancing With The Stars’ line-up

RTE's Strictly-style reality show signs up 11 celebrities including Eva Orsmond and Katherine Lynch

The actress and comedian Katherine Lynch clearly had a plan when she signed up for the weight-loss and fitness series Operation Transformation this year, because she's back on screen, honed for success, for the Irish premier of Dancing With The Stars, which begins on RTÉ One on Sunday, January 8th.

The full line-up of contestants was revealed today, and Lynch, who says she is "the proud owner of two left feet that have a very dysfunctional relationship", can rely on backroom support from another Operation Transformation veteran, the scary Dr Eva Orsmond.

Orsmond, who recently separated from her husband of 20 years, says she is using the dance show challenge to kick-start the next chapter of her life. “I’ve had quite a tough year and this show could not have come at a better time.” How the doctor, known for her tough-love approach as a weight-loss consultant on TV, will deal with the judges’ criticism remains to be seen.

Sports broadcaster Des Cahill may know his way around the choreography of a football match, but the dancefloor is not his natural habitat: "I don't even dance at weddings, but I'm at a stage in my life where I don't get embarrassed anymore, so bring it on."


Comedian Des Bishop is welcoming the challenge of mastering the mambo, and says, "At my age, to learn something completely new like ballroom dancing is an amazing opportunity."

RTÉ news reporter Teresa Mannion has weathered hurricanes in the course of her career, and come up smiling, but says her nerves of steel will be tested with this new opportunity. "The thoughts of dancing live on television is making my legs go to jelly."

Model Thalia Heffernan's catwalk experience should stand her in good stead – though she says she is "very clumsy and falls over regularly". At least she'll not be fazed by the high heels and exuberant costumes.

Actresses Aoibhin Garrihy (Fair City, The Fall) and Denise McCormack (Red Rock, Love|Hate), could be the show's secret weapons; both say they are "massive fans" of the show, and Garrihy has Irish dancing experience.

For Big Brother runner-up, Hughie Maughan, reality TV is becoming real life, and this latest bout is one he's looking forward to. "Spray tans? Glitter every week? That's right up my street."

Kerry footballer and Garda Aidan O'Mahony, and singer Dayl Cronin – "I'd be considered 'the dancer' in HomeTown" – complete the line-up.

The Irish series, which will be screened on Sundays between January 8th and March 26th, will be hosted by Nicky Byrne and Amanda Bryam. Bláthnaid Treacy will host a preview show, Can't Stop Dancing, on Friday nights at 8.30pm.