DANCING WITH THE STARS Viewers will see Panti Bliss, Ireland’s most famous drag star, as part of the first all-male couple to appear on the show.
Panti will take on an Irish Eurovision hope, a female entrepreneur and a GAA star for the very last glitter ball.
The four celebs are the first to be named for the sixth season of the hit reality show, which begins on RTE One in January.
They will receive intensive training before participating in the very last DWTS early next year.
Rory O’Neill – aka Panti Bliss – is hoping to make history as part of the first same-sex couple to take part in the popular series.
Born in Mayo, 54, has been performing as Panti since 1998 and previously opened Panti Bar on Dublin’s Capel Street which has become one of Ireland’s best known gay bars.
In 2015, Panti became a household name in Ireland when she campaigned for equality in the marriage referendum.
After the vote, Panti became an icon of change in Ireland and has even been labeled a figure of the establishment.
Rory – who married her partner Anderson Cabrera in 2019 – confirmed: “It’s happening! I can’t wait to hit the dance floor with my partner – and it will help me get back in shape post lockdowns!
“I feel truly privileged to be part of the first same-sex couple to compete on Dancing with the Stars from the start. It’s a really exciting time!”
Rory will go head-to-head with Derry singer Brooke Scullion, 23, who is best known for representing Ireland in the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest with “That’s Rich”. She co-wrote the song and traveled to Turin, Italy for the competition, but failed to qualify for the final.
Brooke said last night: “I’m so excited to join the Dancing with the Stars family and be part of an iconic Irish series!
“What girl doesn’t want to put on her dancing shoes every Sunday night?! A dream come true – bring on the sequins!”
All-Ireland winner Paul Brogan, former Dublin GAA footballer, will be another household name to lace up the Lycra in 2023.
Paul, 36, is part of the famous Brogan GAA dynasty as the younger brother of legendary Dublin player Bernard and former senior football captain Alan.
Paul was part of Dublin’s winning team for the 2008 O’Byrne Cup and was part of the Dublin body that won three Leinster titles and the 2011 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship.
He said: “I’m so excited to be a part of this show. I’m a competitive person but that’s way out of my comfort zone and from my training so far I know it won’t be easy.
“It will take a lot of hard work, but it will also be a lot of fun. Rehearsals have been great so far and I’m looking forward to the live shows. It will be a great experience and a new test.
“It’s just going to be a different game in a different stadium – Croke Park vs RTÉ!”
Businesswoman Suzanne Jackson completes the lineup of confirmed candidates, with another celebrity to be revealed this weekend.
Suzanne, 38, started blogging at SoSueMe in 2010, which grew into a hugely successful beauty business by 2013.
In 2016, Suzanne took another leap and launched her own beauty line, SoSu Cosmetics.
It has since proved extremely successful and has grown to an estimated value of €2.12 million.
In July 2022, Suzanne announced her plans to step down as CEO of the company.
Suzanne – who lives in Malahide with her husband Dylan O’Connor – said: “I’ve been watching DWTS for years and I love the show and everything about it – from the dancing to the glamor and the costumes to all the incredible people involved are. It’s such a fantastic production and to be a part of it this year is a dream for me.
“I was an Irish dancer when I was younger, but ballroom dancing is a whole different challenge! The timing is just right for me and I will give it my all with my dance partner.”
DWTS was also widely praised for its inclusivity last season after performing with dancers from minority ethnic groups and with disabilities.
Paralympic athlete Ellen Keane became a role model for the nation, reaching the finals while singer Erica Cody hosted RTE show The Main Stage.
Insiders are now wondering if Irish audiences are ready for DWTS’ first-ever same-sex pairing following the success of Great British Bake Off champion John Whaite and pro Johannes Radebe on Strictly.
In 2020, Brian Dowling teamed up with Kai Widdrington on the RTE show as the first all-male dance duo for transition week, and Emily Barker danced with Lottie Ryan.
A source said: “Ireland has come a long way in recent years. We have a wonderfully open society.”
Bookmakers have already put Suzanne Jackson as the favorite to be crowned DWTS champion. The beauty boss is currently chalked at 3/1 for lifting the very last glitter ball.
According to Ladbrokes, Panti Bliss can be supported at 14/1.
Ladbrokes’ Nicola McGeady said: “The final series of RTE’s Dancing with the Stars is due to launch in just a few weeks and with glitterball fever sweeping the nation once again, we’ve put beauty guru Suzanne Jackson as an early favorite to win the series .”
The Irish Sun exclusively announced in September that the January issue will likely be the last series of the dance show.
We shared how the Montrose bosses only signed a one-season deal with program makers ShinAwil Production — not after that. An insider said at the time: “Dancing With The Stars is just too expensive for RTE. The national broadcaster is facing a recession with declining advertising revenues and needs to budget accordingly.”
The cancellation of the Irish version of Strictly Come Dancing should save financially weak RTE around 5 million euros a year.
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