Review: Thalia Heffernan and Ryan McShane's appearance on Miriam might be the cringiest thing we've seen on RTE all year
Sometimes chat shows give insight into the true characters of what stars are really like; surprisingly funny, down-to-earth, a secret party trick a la Michael Fassbender’s ability to do The Worm as displayed on the Graham Norton Show.
Irish model Thalia Heffernan and dancer Ryan McShane are not one of those interviews. The pair met on Dancing With The Stars back in January, a show which is bizarrely treated with the same reverence as the Oscars.
Two minutes into the interview, Thalia says: “I didn’t allow myself to realise how tough it was going to be”, speaking with the same sincerity as if she were a reporter coming home after being embedded in Iraq, as opposed to participating in a dance show filmed in Wicklow.
They were on the Saturday with Miriam programme to promote a worthy cause: both have signed up to walk the Camino alongside DWTS alum Katherine Lynch and raise funds for the Irish Hospice Fund, a topic which Thalia eloquently describes, but it’s a pity only at the end of the interview.
The first five minutes make for classic car crash tv, filled with audience silence, constant interruptions and cringeworthy declarations of love.
The interview begins with the typical chit chat, McShane recalls falling in love with dance from the age of four, “A Catholic mother, a Protestant father and a son that dances,” he quips.
A statement met with zero reaction from the audience.
It then moves to Thalia’s early modelling career, to provide background to those who mightn’t know who she is.
“I’ve been 5’9”, 5’10” since I was about 12 so I’ve always looked a lot older than I was, from a very young age. I was spotted a few times on Grafton Street, I was spotted in London a few times when visiting friends from the age of 12… going into fourth year, I knew I had more time on my hands and I begged my mum to bring me into an agency and it blossomed from there,” she explains.
“I was stunned by how well it took off.”
So far, so fine. They’re clearly comfortable with each other, but joint interviews are difficult at the best of times and new couples don’t make for the best guests as they tend to get so excited to share their happiness with anyone who will listen, they forget they’re on television.
The conversation naturally segues to their ‘how they met’ story as celebrity followers will know was behind the scenes on – you guessed it, Dancing With The Stars.
“It’s tv, it’s scary enough as it is, and then it’s a whole new skill set I never dreamt of doing. It was just so challenging and almost so challenging my nerves couldn’t take a hold of me because there’s so much more to think about,” Thalia says of her experience on the show.
“It was definitely something new and adventurous of me. I had no experience in that field…it was a huge challenge, but it was great fun.”
By minute 3:30, McShane has referred to his former dance partner, Red Rock actress Denise McCormack as “one of the best human beings I’ve ever met”, before saying with all sincerity: “She actually made me a better person.”
“I can vouch for that,” Thalia echoes.
While I’m sure Denise McCormack is a perfectly lovely person, it’s important to remember the circumstances around which they bonded – once again, a dance show filmed in Wicklow.
When asked about Aidan O’Mahony’s eventual win, Ryan “jokes” that he’s still waiting for Aidan to give him the glitterball trophy, but only Thalia laughs.
She says she never expected to win the competition (she was voted off on week two), but declares she “came out winning in the end”, while touching Ryan’s face. This incites the first reaction from the audience, with a simple “Awwww”.
Ryan gushed that they “were just drawn to each other” from early on in filming.
“We’d always make an excuse…to be able to talk because it’s such an overwhelming experience,” Thalia interrupts. “There’s people, there’s cameras. It’s so busy, whenever we got a chance to spend some time together we would.”
“It was a shock for us as much as it was for anyone else. We didn’t try to hide it but we didn’t try to publicise it because we had different partners, we had different things to do on the show so you have to be kind of careful as well. “
Thalia is no stranger to having her relationships dissected – despite being just 22 years old, she has been in the public eye since she was a teenager thanks to her successful modelling career. McShane, on the other hand, is brand new to life in the “spotlight” but has taken to it like a fish to water.
DWTS, which gets yet another mention, has been re-commissioned, but despite the fact that Thalia obviously won’t be competing this year, she has “no worries at all, none whatsoever” about her other half returning to set when Miriam, who has been noticeably quiet thanks to what I’m guessing is a head cold, asks about the “Strictly curse”.
“It doesn’t concern me, it’s great. If he comes back it means I get to spend another five months with him, so for me, I’m all for it.”
And there you have it.