Thursday 19 September 2019

Kirsty Blake Knox: 'RTÉ, I implore you, no one wants to watch DWTS for two hours'

RTE’s Marty Morrissey and Ksenia Zsikhotska,during the Fourth Live show of RTE’s Dancing with the Stars.
RTE’s Marty Morrissey and Ksenia Zsikhotska,during the Fourth Live show of RTE’s Dancing with the Stars. kobpix
The opening show of RTE’s Dancing with the Stars. kobpix
Judges Brian Redmond ,Lorraine Barry and Darren Bennett during the opening show of RTE’s Dancing with the Stars. kobpix
Sitting in judgment: Louis Walsh, Michelle Visage, Jason Byrne and Denise Van Outen
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

Iiinnnn the blue corner, we have Simon Cowell's sharp and snappy 'Got Talent' franchise, along with veteran Reality TV star staple Louis Walsh.

Aaaannnnndddd in the red corner, we have the Beeb's spangly ballroom spectacular, and Marty 'Snake Hips' Morrissey.

Last night, after weeks of those truly terrible Baby Driver inspired ads, Ireland's Got Talent burst on to our screens, full of sob stories and staccato dance routines.

This week, I was sent a preview of the show, and, let me tell you, Dancing with the Stars Ireland had better pull its socks up.

Yes, it has Bernard O'Shea running about in capes, and acting like a gom - if that amuses you. But it's also two hours long. That is far, far too long.

RTÉ, I implore you, there is not a person on the island of Ireland who wants to watch Dancing with the Stars for two hours.

It's the TV equivalent of War and Peace, or Atlas Shrugged, or The NeverEnding Story III: Escape from Fantasia. But this will run every single Sunday night for THREE MONTHS.

I can leave my apartment when the show starts, do the weekly shop, come home, make dinner, have a shower, clean the dishes, have an existential crisis about the meaning of life, come out the other end, and when I pick up the remote Nicky Byrne will still be grinning vacantly at me.

Comparatively, Ireland's Got Talent's running time of 90 minutes seems to fly along.

The judges' 'banter' also isn't scripted - according to IGT producers. And that's a massive plus given how truly dreadful the scripts on DWTS are. The jokes are lame, the links laboured and it's choc-a-bloc with awful puns and juvenile plays on words. And, while I'm sure Nicky and Amanda are both very nice people, neither of them has a discernible sense of humour.

So while they can deliver the jokes on cue, they rarely land. In fact, when I was out covering Dancing with the Stars a fortnight ago, the footage from the rehearsals was accidentally beamed into the green room. Nicky was bartering with the audience.

"When I say the word 'audience' that's your queue to laugh," he told them. "Remember if you do your job, then we can do ours."

I know most entertainment shows have a warm-up routine, but I've never heard a presenter trying to coerce an audience into a verbally binding contract before a show airs.

The show started, and, sure enough, when Nicky delivered the punchline there was a lacklustre groaning guffaw.

In comparison, everyone on the judging panel of IGT are skilled performers, with an understanding of comic timing.

This is helped by slick editing. All of which means there are no excruciating awkward punchlines. And, let's face it, the IGT judges also have more dynamic personalities than the DWTS judges - Michelle Visage, Denise Van Outen, Jason Byrne, and then, of course, there is Louis. Where IGT falls down is its propensity for overblown sentimentality, and its predictability. Statistically, the acts that make it to the finals are dance troupes, singers, or dogs. Got Talent just loves a good dog act.

But even more than a dancing dog, it loves a sob story. Dead relatives, disruptive teens who've learnt the error of their ways, grannies who have spent their lives working down a mine, but also happen to have a set of Whitney Houston pipes. There are lots of 'giving people second chances' on Got Talent. It's not as bad as the X Factor, but it's still up there in terms of schlockiness.

Conor McGregor sits ringside at DWTS to support sister Erin as Maia eliminated 

And that can get a pretty tiresome in a very short space of time. Either way, what seems even more entertaining than either show is the ongoing fracas between the show's two producers.

DWTS producer Larry Bass says he put Louis Walsh on TV and looks forward to watching him die on TV. He also claims there isn't a large enough talent pool in Ireland to sustain the series. I guess it took him five series of producing The Voice to figure that out.

And I'm enjoying Louis Walsh highlighting the lack of celebrities on DWTS.

Get your popcorn and stay tuned - things will get uglier off screen than on.

Eliminated Maia Dunphy says DWTS scores were 'oddly contradictory' after positive comments 

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