Saturday 24 September 2016

Kirsty at large: Happy families for Fiach as backbenchers take seats

Published 14/08/2016 | 02:30

Somme total: Graham McLaren, Neil Murray and Fiach Mac Conghail at the opening of the Abbey's latest production. Photo: Mark Stedman
Somme total: Graham McLaren, Neil Murray and Fiach Mac Conghail at the opening of the Abbey's latest production. Photo: Mark Stedman
Don Conroy is heading to Stradbally
Vogue Williams

It's been entertainment in itself watching the fervour and speed with which Irish 'zlebs have proffered themselves up to the producers of Ireland's Dancing With the Stars.

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Presenters, models and influencers all want to make their allegiance to the diamante-encrusted reality show crystal clear.

Eoghan McDermott confirmed both he and his Pepé le Pew style quiff would love to perform the mash potato live on air.

"I've done some dancing back in my days but I don't want people to think that's an unfair advantage," he said.

Eoghan added that he'd "happily" present the show too. What generosity of spirit!

Vogue Williams (pictured), who has already competed in the Australian version, wrote about what an "incredible experience" it had been.

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Pippa O'Connor Ormond told reporters she would be more than willing to throw on her dancing shoes if the producers come a-knocking. "Do I have any rhythm? I don't really know," she mused. "Probably with a few drinks on me I do!"

Meanwhile, model Roz Purcell admitted she would prefer to judge the dancers - that way she stands to get more air time. "I'd love to judge… I wouldn't get axed then. They couldn't kick me out," she said.

I am a firm fan of bubble-gum telly tat. So much so that I spent a year working for a US reality TV company best known for their series Amish in the City. While stationed in the Development Department, I learnt the importance of pitch-perfect TV casting.

And so I make a solemn appeal to Dancing With the Stars producers. Do. Not. Cast. Any. Of. The. Above.

Not Pippa, not Roz, not Eoghan. We see these faces on TV all the bloody time. We want a little innovation. Look at the Beeb's version - inaugural X Factor champ Will Young cha-cha-ing alongside former shadow chancellor Ed Balls? Now that's variety.

Casting is key - and falling back on the usual and overly enthusiastic suspects will make for a predictably dull show. RTÉ - it's time to think outside the goggle box. Cast the net wider, but for God's sake - get Anne Doyle on board. The woman is TV gold.

Backbenchers making the most of their hollibops

Good to see those Leinster House backbenchers are making the most of the summer hollibops. This week, Frances Fitzgerald, Charlie Flanagan, Katherine Zappone and Richard Boyd Barrett all jammed through the doors of the Abbey Theatre for the opening of Observe the Son's of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme.

I suppose they've only got another 30-plus days left until they return to Kildare Street so they're determined to enjoy themselves.

Boyd Barrett arrived with his mum, actress Sinéad Cusack, in tow. Sinéad is looking forward to starting work on her next film Funny Cow' - which will see her team up with Hobbit star Martin Freeman and Shameless actress Maxine Peake.

"It's bleak but very good," she said. That also seemed to be the general consensus on Frank McGuinness's WWI-inspired play.

"Anne Louise had warned me in advance," Zappone said nodding towards her other half. "I was bouncing off the walls beforehand so she had to deflate me". Probably best - trench foot and bayonet charges aren't the cheeriest of subjects.

But McGuinness's next play sounds more upbeat. "It's about country and western music," he said. Sadly the play won't feature a rendition of Nathan Carter's 'Wagon Wheel'. As guests took their seats, Fiach Mac Conghail talked about sharing an office space with his successors Neil Murray and Graham McLaren.

"It's brilliant to have them here," he said. "We're getting on great." And don't they look it? There they are - one big happy family. 

Electric Picnic bring The Don to Stradbally

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Just when you thought Electric Picnic couldn't get more rock and roll - they bring out the Big Guns.

Forget LCD Sound System, Lana Del Ray and Chemical Brothers. This year, the legend that is Don Conroy will head to Stradbally for the festival.

Don (above), best known for his quick-fire rapport with Zig and Zag and the deftness with which he could draw owls - at least, I think they were owls - will be stationed at Surf's Laundry Club.

"I'll be colouring and drawing," he said. "It's my first time going but I've heard great things altogether. I'm really looking forward to meeting the old Den audience."

For those who think helping Don draw a mural might be too high energy, hedge your bets and head to the comedy tent.

Republic of Telly host Kevin McGahern will join Dylan Moran, David O'Doherty and Aisling Bea.

"I think the best thing about performing at a festival is seeing the inventive ways people smuggle in drink," Kevin said.

"I've seen people smuggle bottles of vodka in their hair, in colostomy bags, under boobs. Irish people can get very creative when drink is on the line. The worst part is going through all that trouble and still getting caught."

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