Meet the Irish celebrities limbering up for RTE's Dancing With The Stars in January
Rehearsals have just started for RTE's much-anticipated new show Dancing with the Stars.
The Diary can reveal how the 11 celebrities have already slipped on their training gear to limber up for the new Sunday night flagship programme.
Among those rumoured to be taking part in the replacement for Voice of Ireland is the newly-single Thalia Heffernan, making it the couture model's first foray into TV.
Also linked with the show are comedian Des Bishop, RTE Western reporter Teresa Mannion, GAA player Aidan O'Mahony and Irish Big Brother star Hughie Maughan.
They have already started working on the programme as they meet their professional dance partners and start learning the tricky dance routines.
The chosen celebrities will spend the next few weeks trying to make sure they are dance-floor ready in a top-secret rehearsal location in Dublin's city centre.
An inside source revealed that the show will require "a significant commitment" from those taking part and it was going to be a very time-consuming programme.
"It doesn't start until January 8 but they have to start learning the routines now, in addition to the publicity they'll have to be doing as part of their contracts," she said.
"The show will run from January until March, so it's essentially three months long if you stay in it until the end. It was tricky to get the line-up right as they needed people who were well-known but had a significant gap in their schedule."
They will also be picking up a tidy pay cheque, with a minimum fee of more than €3,000 a week. UK-based presenter Amanda Byram has been tipped to front the Irish version of Strictly Come Dancing.