Tuesday 24 January 2017

'Daniel is the one to beat and I think he’s going to be fantastic' - former Strictly contestants Nicky Byrne and Diarmuid Gavin back O'Donnell

Cormac Fitzgerald

Published 22/08/2015 | 12:49

Daniel O'Donnell in studio with Marian Finucane
Daniel O'Donnell in studio with Marian Finucane
EDINBURGH, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 08: Daniel O'Donnell performs on stage at Usher Hall on April 8, 2014 in Edinburgh, United Kingdom. (Photo by Roberto Ricciuti/Redferns via Getty Images)

Former Irish contestants on Strictly Come Dancing, Nicky Byrne and Diarmuid Gavin, have backed Daniel O'Donnell in the contest.

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O’Donnell was named as a contestant during the week in the popular BBC television show, which sees celebrities team up with professional dancers each week to perform a dance routine for judges.

He will join contestants Peter Andre, celebrity chef Ainsley Harriott and professional boxer Anthony Ogogo among others.

Speaking on RTE’s the Marian Finucane Show, O’Donnell said that he was excited and nervous about appearing on the show.

“I’m nervous already. Not uncontrollably but I’ve that feeling every so often, I get a wee dart saying, ‘what are you at?’” he said.

“I’m not a dancer, and neither is anyone else who is on the show.”

EDINBURGH, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 08: Daniel O'Donnell performs on stage at Usher Hall on April 8, 2014 in Edinburgh, United Kingdom. (Photo by Roberto Ricciuti/Redferns via Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 08: Daniel O'Donnell performs on stage at Usher Hall on April 8, 2014 in Edinburgh, United Kingdom. (Photo by Roberto Ricciuti/Redferns via Getty Images)

O’Donnell said that growing up in rural Ireland he loved to dance to country music at all the local dances but that the competition would be very different.

“But the dancing you would do at a dance, it’s nothing like the ballroom situation, because it’s so strict,” he said.

But O’Donnell said he was looking forward to the challenge, and at the very least he would lose a bit of weight.

“The challenge is what I’m on for and it’s something different,” he said.

“Well if I last long enough I’ll probably be fitter at the end of it.

“Recently I’ve but on a bit of weight I suppose because I’m not doing as much as I would have done.”

Read more: 'God help whoever gets me' - Daniel O'Donnell jokes as he signs up for Strictly Come Dancing  

Irish celebrities Nicky Byrne and Diramuid Gavin phoned into the show to offer their support and give advice to Daniel.

“I went out just before the semi-final.” said Byrne.

“What I learnt most was the love that people have for Strictly Come Dancing… Everywhere I went when I was on that show people wanted to speak to me about what it was like getting on that dancefloor,” he said.

“When you get out there onto the dancefloor… and you know there’s 13 or 14 million people watching it’s absolutely nerve wracking - it really, really is.”

Read more: Boxer Anthony Ogogo to battle Daniel O'Donnell and more in Strictly Come Dancing  

Celebrity gardener Diarmuid Gavin said that the contest is an incredible experience and that O’Donnell would be in with a good chance of winning.

“I think Daniel is kind of the one to beat and I think he’s going to be fantastic on it,” he said.

Gavin also said it was hard not to take the contest and what the judges say to heart.

“You take it probably a little bit more seriously than you should,” he said.

“You get into this sort of bubble and you take what they say a little bit seriously.”

But both men were hopeful that O’Donnell’s quick-wit would be a good defence against the strict judges.

“Well I think Daniel is the secret weapon this year,” said Gavin.

“He’s an incredible wit and he won’t take any nonsense from any of those judges.

“So I think if he gets the chance to put them in their place it will be amazing television apart from dancing,” he said.

O’Donnell said he would have to watch himself when getting criticised from the judges.

“I hope the sharp tongue doesn’t come out anyway because it can come out the odd time,” he said.

O’Donnell will appear on the 13th series of the show which will begin airing on BBC on September 3.

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