Lights, camera, sequins: Everything you need to know as Dancing With The Stars returns
Aoife Kelly has everything you need to know about 'Dancing with the Stars' as the latest series returns
The festive season has wrapped and a gloomy January is upon us, but never fear, Dancing with the Stars is poised to bring a bit of glitz and glamour back into our lives, at least on Sunday nights. With a new presenting duo of 2FM regulars Jennifer Zamparelli (replacing Amanda Byram) and Nicky Byrne, an interesting mix of contestants, and the return of the regular judging line-up, this third series may prove to be the best yet.
Certainly the contestants this year are almost all in it to win it - the fighting talk has already begun - and judge Brian Redmond has assured us he won't be going easy on them. So we expect there will be plenty of tension lurking behind those rows of pearly whites, on both sides of the judging desk.
Here's everything you need to know ahead of Sunday night...
When does it start?
The sequins start spinning on January 6 at 6.30pm on RTÉ One for a two-hour opening show. The series will run for 12 weeks, wrapping on March 24 with the last couple standing earning the right to raise that glitter ball trophy. However, you can get in the mood from today with Can't Stop Dancing (RTÉ One, 8.30pm), the preview show hosted by Blathnaid Treacy, which will give an insight into how the celebs have been getting on with training ahead of their presumably terrifying first dance. They need not panic just yet, however, as there will be no elimination for the first two weeks. From week three however, one celebrity and their dance partner will be ditched each week after the judges' and public's votes are counted.
Meet the contestants:
The former Miss Ireland, model, and Herald columnist is at something of a disadvantage since her dance partner, Curtis Pritchard, was injured during an attack on St Stephen's Day in the UK. His injured knee has ruled him out of the competition, at least for the first few weeks. His replacement will be announced tomorrow.
›Demi Isaac Oviawe
Actress Demi (18), of The Young Offenders fame, has youth, exuberance, and the ability to perform on her side. She said, "I can't wait to get started and learn a new skill. I'm hoping that I can be a role model for young black women in Ireland and maybe some might even follow in my dance steps."
The 66-year-old Mrs Brown's Boys star is well used to performing in front of a live studio audience and when she was announced for this year's series she said she "can't wait to get started". There was nary a nerve in sight.
Stunning country music star Cliona (29), who hails from Tyrone, is hoping to win. "When I say I want to win DWTS, I don't say that in an egotistical way," she said. "I mean it in the sense that you should always try your best in anything that you do, and I always live life to the fullest." She could be a contender.
Filling the 'comedian' slot vacated by Bernard O'Shea from last year's line-up is 38-year-old Fred, who is a big fan of the show and says he was "star struck" by the professional dancers. He is also, he said, "terrified".
Former Munster and Ireland scrum half Stringer (41), who announced his retirement from rugby last June, is taking the baton from Tomas O'Leary who took to the floor last year. He certainly has the physical prowess to endure 12 weeks of dancing, but does he have the technique to match?
"I've never danced on a dance floor before so going from that to dancing in front of a live audience will be a whole new experience for me. I'm nervous but up for the challenge," he said on The Late Late Show.
Following his big reveal, the 34-year-old stylist and presenter said, "I'm excited, petrified, terrified - I don't know what I've got myself in for. It's completely out of my comfort zone but ultimately I'm looking forward to it. I've zero dance experience."
Actor Johnny (31), best known for his menacing turns on Love/Hate and Fair City, is also a stage and panto star, and runs a performing arts school. Given his experience as a performer and the fact he will be primed to listen and adapt to feedback, he is, on paper at least, a strong contender to win.
However, as those of us who religiously watch Love Island every summer (no judgement please), looking good 'on paper' often means very little in reality. Even so, our money is on this man.
Clelia (43), who played Niamh Brennan on RTÉ soap Fair City, had dance classes as a child but, alas, did not pursue them.
"I'm sorry now that I didn't stick with dance classes as a child," she said. "I'm normally dressed from head to toe in black and I'm finding myself in a glorious rainbow sea of glitter and sequins and Spanx. I'm so far out of my comfort zone, but I kind of love it."
The 37-year-old former Dublin GAA star retired from the county game last year, and said that while the professional dancers have "athleticism, rhythm and coordination" he has "probably one of those qualities". Sure one out of three ain't bad...
The popular presenter gave birth to her third child in August, but that hasn't stopped her giving the show her all - and setting her sights on winning.
"Dara [her eldest son] is the only person in the house that has trophies at the moment so I would love to have the Dancing with the Stars trophy on the mantelpiece," the 38-year-old told the Sunday Independent. "It would be lovely to show him that Mommy can win things too."
And the judges?
The usual suspects will return. Brian Redmond will be joined once again by Loraine Barry and Julian Benson.
Speaking earlier this week Redmond said he won't be taking it easy on this batch of hoofers, adding, "I'm not scared of telling Peter Stringer what I think either, because, as a professional sportsman, he will be used to listening to coaches and hearing what they think."