Viewers of a certain age will associate the Glenroe theme tune with the end of the weekend and the haunting spectre of school in the morning.
In that tradition of a televisual harbinger of doom, RTÉ has once again rolled out Dancing With The Stars, a show that marks both the end of the weekend and the changing of the seasons.
Christmas is over, it’s still winter, and this is what we’re left with on a Sunday night.
For the fourth year in a row, people the media will insist you should know will look to waltz, tap and cha cha cha their way into the hearts of a nation.
Last night’s new season opener was one for the male contestants, who performed their opening numbers ahead of their female counterparts, who will have next week’s show to stake their early claims.
No contestant was eliminated on this first outing, meaning the audiencesat home were left with only significant challenge of the night — identifying some of the participants RTÉ have generously described as ‘stars’. The flashy footwork had nothing on the nimble fingers dancing across phone screens around the country as thousands took to Google to ask “who’s that?”.
The show has its well-worn templated line-up at this stage. A model, a former GAA player, a singer,someone off Fair City, a TV presenter.
This year’s exception to the rule is Fr Ray Kelly, a priest who found fame when a video of him singing in mass went viral.
Fr Ray, however, may need divine intervention if he is to progress in thecontest based on his first showing, which received anepisode-low score of eight from the judges.
Teaming up with his pro dance partner, Kylee Vincent, the duo danced a foxtrot to ‘A Spirit in the Sky’.
“It felt really good,” Fr Ray said after his number, adding that he believes Buddy, his dog, was watching at home and would be “really proud”.
Buddy wouldn’t find many in agreement with him on the judge’s panel however.
“You’ll have to forgive me but it wasn’t the foxtrot we wanted to see,” judge Loraine Barry said.
“A gliding step across the floor would have helped. You did your very best, you worked very hard and I believe you really enjoyed it.”
Julian Benson was more upbeat in his appraisal, however: “Never mind the spirit in the sky, you are my ray of sunshine. You danced with heart, your face came alive and you were even singing the song. Where there’s a will, there’s way”.
Brian Redmond added: “The dance was a mystery to me and I think even at times, it was to you. You got most of the steps wrong in thesecond half but it can only get better.”
At the other end of the leaderboard, Fair City actor Ryan Andrews and partner, Giulia Dotta scored a high of 21 for their Cha Cha Cha to the hit ‘If I Can’t Have You’.
“You get so much into it and you don’t want to let your partner down so I kept going and going in training until I split my trousers,” Ryan said.
I’m a huge fan so to walk down those stairs tonight was like a dream come true.
Brian said he felt the number lacked a bit of hip action. “But the way you used your feet was phenomenal. This is a good startand bodes very well for the future,” he said.
Loraine said the pair “used a lot of space”.
“I would like to see the body go a little more into space. A little bit choppy at times but the steps and rhythm were there.” she said.
Julian said he thought the pair had potential.
“The chemistry of the two of you was bouncing. You’ve great foot work,” he said.
Others who took to the floor last night wereAll-Ireland winning former Kilkenny hurler AidanFogarty, former Olympic boxer Michael Carruth, and Big Brother winner, Brian Dowling.
Next week Glenda Gilson, Lottie Ryan, Sinead O’Carroll, Gráinne Gallanagh, Yewande Biala, and Mary Kennedy will show their moves ahead of week three’s episode and the first elimination. The show is due to run until the end of March.