Ireland’s Got Talent: RDC dance act from Cork win €50,000 prize

Army of dance-school kids crowded the stage like a moonwalking militia

The curtain has fallen on TV3's inaugural series of Ireland's Got Talent and Cork's RDC, an army of dance school kids who crowded the stage like a moonwalking militia, slipped off with the coveted prize.

Perhaps it was all over before it began when judge Louis Walsh’s comments rang out like a prophecy: “everyone in Cork will vote for you and there’s a lot of people in Cork”. RDC won over the viewers with a dance performance that was razor sharp in its precision and masterfully controlled in style to a medley of Michael Jackson songs.

Double Impact started off the night in true talent show style with pocket-sized nine- year- old Shyesha chirruping that a win "would change me life" like an industry weary veteran. Their energetic pirouetting, breakneck speed performance to Florence and the Machine at times looked like a trip to A&E waiting to happen with Kyle swinging his partner over his head at a dizzying tempo . TV3 possibly should have given a warning to prevent anyone from trying it at home, just leave it to the children.

Belting out This is Me from The Greatest Showman, Linda McLoughlin gave a powerful if perfunctory performance which may not have encouraged the talent show fatigued audience to lift the phones.

Dublin dance group FKFT, like a hip-hop loving breakdancing Bash Street Kids, delivered something endearingly rough around the edges rather than a well-oiled, slick machine. Sliding around the stage to You Got the Love it was a passionate performance that moved through to high school musical territory but was saved by the pure force of their endless charisma.

One of the hot favourites, Aaron J Hart, the rapping Barry Keoghan lookalike, took a risk performing original songs throughout the series, proving that it's not a karaoke show but a bid for fresh voices to be heard and discovered. His undoing was possibly pushing himself (and the audience) too far by performing an unexpectedly upbeat track rather than the sombre, moody tunes they were used to. While wildcard Matt Dodd, the booming voice from Ballyfermot with the Ken Barlow barnet, gave a lung shredding West End turn with his version of Love Changes Everything – with Jason Byrne quipping that it was "a lot a noise for a little aul fella".

Denise Van Outen's Golden Buzzer pick Xquisite injected the fun into the night with their intergalactic routine teleporting us to Mars. Mixing ballroom moves with robotic twists and gestures in their silver space garb to Peanut Butter Jelly by Galantis the group are so terrifyingly professional as they blankly stared into the crowd you almost expected lasers to shoot from their eyes.

The final act of the night was an explosive routine from star of the show Zacc Milne who executed a myriad of amazing moves to a megamix of Lady Gaga, Britney, Madonna. Standing astride a giant light box before strutting down his own private catwalk in his glitzy flower tracksuit and hun bun it felt fresh and a truly modern Irish moment. His confidence and the creativity flowing from every pore made it a heart-bursting performance that was the true highlight.

The RDC dance troupe may have scooped the prize in a predictable numbers game but the show itself has been a fascinating curio with the surreal spirit of its British originator still intact but with a distinct Irish flavour, like a chain of “authentic” pubs pumped with the scent of Tayto and stew.

For a format that should be tired by now, a show style that we've all seen before, it works because of its unique Irish sensibilities. Jason Byrne's decidedly Dublin compliment "Absolutely deadly!" has become a catchphrase, the sizzling Michelle Visage prompted RuPaul to tweet in Irish, Denise van Outen a woman that presented the truly awful Something for the Weekend has managed to become the voice of reason and even Walsh looked in his element, more engaged and visibly moved by performances throughout the series than any other show he's been part of in recent years. The judges gel together with a playful camaraderie that feels genuine, not just an Instagram sham.

TV talent shows usually turn their audience into the salivating mob surrounding the guillotine waiting for the heads to roll and for people to fail gloriously but Ireland is a nicer country than we give it credit for. Instead of the unnecessary brutality of shows such as the X Factor we had karaoke grandad Philip Murphy being cheered on when he fumbled through his Inner Circle tribute in the semi-finals. Contestants' wonkiest moments were forgiven or laughed off with judge Jason Byrne giving a reassuring wink or Michelle Visage cocking her head in sympathy. It's a sweeter experience than its contemporaries, a warmer reality show with the feel of Gogglebox or First Dates that celebrates ordinary people rather than relying on scripted put downs and worn-out snark.

Although ending up with six finalists and two wildcards perhaps there was a touch of the judges being too nice – suffering from the indecisive “can’t they all be winners” attitude, which is an odd ethos for something that’s not just a variety show but a competition, or perhaps they were trying to add some diversity to the conspiracy of child dancers voted through by the public.

RDC may have won over the viewers but now the real work begins as they must concoct an hour-long show to dazzle everyone all over again, hopefully the initial excitement of the competition won’t dim for their audience when the show finally arrives.

Ultimately Ireland’s Got Talent ended up being a positive showcase for the ingenuity and imagination of the much maligned millennials, a new nation that is vibrating with creativity. The kids are certainly alright.

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