'I think it will be here for a while' - Julian Benson on Dancing With the Stars axe rumours, life with Cystic Fibrosis and his late mother
Dancing with the Stars judge Julian Benson has responded to rumours that the show may be facing the axe unless the licence fee is raised.
Julian has become a household name thanks to his judging stint over the past three years on the RTÉ show and he thinks it will still be on screen for some time to come after proving to be a hit with viewers.
Julian told Independent.ie: "I think it will be here for a while. If I was a betting man, I'd put the few pounds on it. It's fun, it's entertaining. RTÉ do a brilliant job. I do think the show is about having the right people, and about having the right team.
"That's what makes it a great success. I think they've got the right formula."
He continued: "I actually think Dancing with the Stars is a real feel-good family show. I think, as they say, there's something for everybody in the audience. It appeals to the five-year-old's to the ninety five-year-old's. It's wholesome, it's fun, there's something for everybody.
"I think it's the first time, if I'm honest, I think there's a show that's come along to RTÉ that everybody can sit down as family and watch, have their own opinion, and have a bit of fun, bring the family together and bond," he added.
Despite appearing on the show for the past three seasons, the 48-year-old said he has no plans to slow down.
"My passion is for performance. I love performing. I love opportunity. When I'm on that show, you see me as I am. I'm alive, I'm electric, I'm on fire. I'm like dancing with the stars. My heart is in my mouth because I feel like I'm on the stage. But I'll always be open to other opportunities, I'm always the person who encourages people to strive for their goals," he told Independent.ie.
Julian, who is a regular fixture on the RTÉ show alongside Loraine Barry and Brian Redmond, is open about his own personal fight with Cystic Fibrosis (CF), an inherited genetic disorder that mostly affects the lungs but also the pancreas, liver, kidneys and intestines.
Whenever he feels unwell and cannot appear on the show, guest judge and "understudy" Darren Bennett takes his spot, but Julian always watches from home.
"Any time I've taken a break, Darren has very kindly sat in for me, as I call him, my understudy," he joked.
"I always watch it. When I'm out I'm out for a reason, it's to recuperate. And you know, it's nice to see it from the other side. I'm three years doing it now, it's lovely to step back. Nobody likes to take a break, but the universe can't control when I have to take a break."
Less than a year ago, Julian set up the Julian Benson Cystic Fibrosis foundation with a goal of building a home-from-home for people with Cystic Fibrosis. This week, the foundation hopes to launch of their Text-to-Donate Campaign, where people can text “BUILD” to 50300 to donate towards the project.
He said his late mother has given him the "strength and courage" to push forward with the project, and said he thinks she is "she's smiling down on me."
"My mother was my everything. Every day I thank her and say 'thank you Mum for the strength and courage you've given me to do what I've done.' We talked about this, the foundation. We talked about doing good. I kept saying to my mum, 'when the time is right and I can actually make a difference I'll set it up. I could have done this five or ten years ago but when the time is right the universe will tell me. I think she's smiling down on me," he said.
"I have great belief and faith as well that she's guiding me in all my decisions. I always think about things in a positive light. It's important in life to keep that belief, to strive for your dreams, to go for your passions even in the face of diversity.
"I am someone who likes to help other people achieve their goals. Sometimes entertainment can be a horse rodeo, and it's all about themselves. By setting up my foundation, I've found my raison d'être in life, it's to give back and to help others because I know what it's like," he said.
As part of their 20th year celebrations, the International Ladies Polo Day has teamed up with The Julian Benson Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. As part of the event, two celebrity matches will be held where famous friends faces, such as Eoghan McDermott, James Kavanagh, Erin McGregor and Niamh Cullen will take part.
After training all through August, two celebrities will be paired with two professional players where they will battle it out in several 15-minute ‘chukkas’.
Julian said: "I'm thrilled. I'm trying to build an accommodation facility in Dublin for people, and for families with CF from all over Ireland. It's great event and please god we'll raise lots of money and help me push my project forward."
For information on Julian's Foundation, visit jbcff.com