Switch-up week sees Irish TV history made on Dancing with the Stars

Irish television history was made tonight on RTÉ One, when Brian Dowling and Kai Widdrington, and Lottie Ryan and Emily Barker took to the floor as same-sex professional and celebrity dance partners, in a first for the dance series, both in the Ireland and in the UK.

Switch-up week sees Irish TV history made on Dancing with the Stars

Irish television history was made tonight on RTÉ One, when Brian Dowling and Kai Widdrington, and Lottie Ryan and Emily Barker took to the floor as same-sex professional and celebrity dance partners, in a first for the dance series, both in Ireland and in the UK.

Tonight's switch-up show began with all the celebrity and pro dancers on the dance-floor, kicking off with a group performance to Moving On Up by M People.

There were no eliminations this week.

The first couple to perform an individual dance tonight were television presenter Mary Kennedy and her pro partner for this week, Ryan McShane. They took to the floor with a fun, giddy jive to Twistin' the Night Away by Sam Cooke.

Following the performance, Loraine said: "I really like when you got together and that's where you were more comfortable. In the solo frames, you were a little bit unsure, but that's because of the time frame this week."

Julian said: "As for those legs, you have the best pair of legs in town. We got plenty of jive movement...we got some nice twist action. What I would like to have seen was a little bit more energy, but this was an old school jive which I did love."

Brian said: "Maybe the switch-up didn't work quite as well as it could have done for you."

Following her performance, Mary paid tribute to RTÉ broadcaster Keelin Shanley, whose death was sadly announced earlier this afternoon.

Mary said: "Keelin Shanley passed away this afternoon, she was just a gorgeous woman, a colleague in the newsroom and I know that everybody in RTE will be very very sad to hear about her passing. She was so young, she was a robust journalist but she was kindness itself. She was always obliging and just a lovely lovely person and our sympathies go to her husband Conor and her two children Ben and Lucy. May she rest in peace."

Mary scored 14 from the judges.

Fair City actor Ryan Andrews was partnered with Ballroom Champion Laura Nolan this week. They danced an enchanting waltz to Open Arms by Journey.

Afterwards, Ryan said, "there was added pressure" with a waltz.

Loraine said: "It's the position, the frame, the articulation of the feet, the swing and the harmony...and it was fabulous. You were very dominant out there and you took on the leading role. This was a very very polished performance."

Brian said: "I thought this was going to be a really interesting switch-up week for you. For me, the top line was excellent, as a test, I think it was a test you passed."

Julian said: "It was a beautiful, elegant moving waltz, my friend. Your core control and your top line, you were just like a leading man on the floor."

Ryan scored 25 from the judges.

Next up was Fr. Ray Kelly, who danced a charleston with his new partner Giulia Dotta. The pair danced to National Express by Divine Comedy.

Commenting after they finished, Fr. Ray said: "I absolutely loved it, we had a great couple of days rehearsing...I just really got into it and gave it my all."

Brian said: "The fact remains that you are still here and actually tonight, I'm quite happy that you are still here. There was lots of stuff missing, there was one lift, but it was quite a small lift."

Julian said: "Listen, Fr Ray, after that I'd definitely go for a ride on your bus. You are going from strength to strength, Father. With the Oscars coming tomorrow, after that performance, you get Best Actor from me."

Loraine said: "I loved it, and I think everyone else here loved it. You are just so good together and so cute together. You gave us a fun, charming charleston. I just thought overall it was the sweetest charleston."

Fr. Ray scored 14 from the judges, his highest score yet.

Singer Sinéad O'Carroll and her switch-up partner John Nolan next performed a Viennese Waltz to Guilty by Paloma Faith.

After their performance, Sinead said that both of her dance partners, John and Ryan, have been "relaxed and calm" in their approaches to teaching her.

Julian said: "The drama, this was a sexy, seductive Viennese Waltz, you really turned this upside down. I think ballroom is where you are in your comfort zone. Tonight, you shone on the floor."

Loraine said: "Well I have to start by saying wow I did not expect that, I really didn't, but I loved everything you did. You took a beautiful, soft Viennese waltz and made it dark and moody. I just have to say, this was outstanding."

Brian said: "It was a Viennese Waltz of the highest class in terms of dancing. I thought it was fabulous."

Sinéad scored 27 from the judges, her highest score of the series.

Kilkenny Hurler Aidan Fogarty paired up with Kylee Vincent this week and performed a lively cha-cha-cha to Feels Like Home by Sigala.

Aidan said: "Tonight wasn't my best night, but it's all about putting that in the past and going into the future."

Julian said: "I call this a sort of tropical, popical cha cha. One thing I would like to see is a little bit more fluidity. But listen, cha-cha-licious."

Brian said: "While this had a great beach party feel, it just wasn't up to your usual standard. If I change from being Brian Redmond to Brian Cody, he wouldn't have let you switch off at half time... so get back out there."

Loraine said: "What I was very impressed with was all the body action... the ripples, the rolls, the hip action was there. The shoulders need to be a little bit more still, a little bit more fluidity in the hips to get it. I think with more time, you could have actually nailed what was a very good routine."

Aidan scored 18 from the judges.

After a break, the moment viewers and audience members alike were waiting for came when Brian Dowling got to fulfill his dream and dance with a same-sex professional for the first time ever on the series. Wearing matching suits, Brian and Kai Widdrington danced the quickstep to Take That's Out of Our Heads.

An emotional Brian said: "I've never been so nervous in all of my life. A big thank you also to Kai, for doing it with me. It's a shame it took so long, but it is 2020 and it's the start of what should be everywhere."

Host Jennifer Zamparelli said: "What an incredible moment, we have waited a long time to have a moment like this on Irish television."

Loraine said: "It was truly a delight to watch. I have taught same-sex couples, and you put that together in three days. It was all there in hold and then when you came out of hold, you were so in sync with each other. That was very impressive, it truly was."

Brian said: "You are brave because you are the one who agreed to take on the added pressure of being the first to do this."

Julian said: "Brian, It was a loud and proud quickstep and I'm actually very proud of you. You took a moment on the floor tonight and made history. It was fantastic, it didn't matter I was watching two men, I was just watching dancing. Today you made history."

Brian scored 23 from the judges

Model Gráinne Gallanagh, who topped the leader-board last week, was paired with Pasquale La Rocca. They performed a rumba to Beautiful People by Ed Sheeran feat. Khalid.

After her dance, she said: "It's a lot and it was a shorter amount of time...but I think it went well, I'm happy."

Brian said: "A rumba for me is a dance that celebrates beauty and feminine confidence, while you totally looked the part, you also looked unsure of yourself. It's not been your best dance. I think next week you are really going to need to up your game."

Loraine said: "I feel you really made that routing to highlight Grainne here. You got all the footwork right."

Julian said: "For me. this was very much a romantic, authentic rumba. You actually create beautiful lines - you have beautiful leg lines and beautiful arms."

Gráinne scored 18 from the judges.

Next up were Lottie Ryan and Emily Barker, performing a high energy charleston to Woman Up by Meghan Trainor. Female empowerment was the motivation behind Lottie and Emily's high-octave routine.

Lottie said: "To be the first woman to get to dance in a same-sex, female coupling on this show is absolutely amazing."

Julian said: "The power, the energy, the precision in those steps. It's sassy, sexy and the timing...I loved, in particular, the split section on the floor. Very clever, very well choreographed."

Brian said: "It's really rare we get a chance to prepare a celebrity to a professional dancer - you knocked it out of the park."

Loraine said: "Ladies do it best, and ladies do it in heels too. There was lots of great dancing here. Overall, I thought it was a very high-powered routine."

Lottie scored 26 from the judges.

Nicky Byrne then had a chat with the celebrities before the pro dancers danced a Lindy Hop to Hit the Road Jack.

Tonight, viewers were also treated to an exclusive performance of judge Julian Benson's charity single, Cha Cha Boom, accompanied by dance troop, Fly Youth.

As the voting lines closed, Nicky met the judges to get their take on Switch-Up week.

There were no eliminations this week and celebrities will now return to their original pro-dance partners as they prepare for the start of the dreaded dance offs - which will begin on next week’s show.

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