Saturday 24 March 2018

Daniel's eyes are smiling after his 'Strictly' scores

Bluffer’s guide to ‘Strictly Come Dancing’

Daniel O’Donnell and his dance partner Kristina Rihanoff
Daniel O’Donnell and his dance partner Kristina Rihanoff
Sarah Stack

Sarah Stack

It's time to dust down those glitter balls and dig out the sequins as 'Strictly Come Dancing' has waltzed back on to our screens - but did our Daniel O'Donnell leave Irish eyes smiling?

The Donegal crooner appeared on the hit BBC show with his professional partner, 'Siberian Siren' Kristina Rihanoff, where they faced their toughest audience - the judges.

The duo waltzed to Ruby Murray's 'When Irish Eyes Are Smiling', under the watchful eye of wife Majella, who flew to London for the live show.

But it will be another week before his adoring fans can vote to keep the pair on their twinkle toes.

"I'm excited now but you can't tell," a nervous Daniel told presenter Claudia Winkleman afterwards.

Six couples danced last night, with the remaining nine couples ready to perform on live TV tonight.


Strictly might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's winning the ratings war and it was watched by an average of 8.69 million people on launch night - compared with 7.1 million viewers who tuned into UTV's The X Factor. Its live shows have also filled arenas here and across the UK - I know, because I've been!

So how does it work? Well, get 15 'celebrities' - OK, the majority you've never heard of - and 15 professionals and watch their blood, blisters, sweat and tears as they battle it out to lift the coveted Glitter Ball trophy

Daniel is paired with 38-year-old Rihanoff, who previously waltzed off arm in arm with two of her former celebrity dance partners. She dated boxer Joe Calzaghe after the 2009 series and is currently stepping out with burly rugby player Ben Codon, who appeared to tiptoe away with her heart in 2013.

But only time will tell if this year's celebs - which include singer Peter Andre, sports presenter Kirsty Gallacher and TV chef Ainsley Harriot - will fall for their partners or flat on their faces.

But what did the judges think of Daniel's first performance?

Well, he scored a respectable 24 out of 40 - which will be added to the viewer's votes when the lines open next week.

Top judge Len Goodman told Daniel he had the best footwork he'd ever seen, while former ballet dancer Darcey Bussell added: "You danced like the perfect gentleman. It was effortless."

Not a bad start for a wee boy from the foothills of Donegal.

Irish Independent

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