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Ireland is showing the UK how it’s done again, with same-sex dance pairings on Dancing with the Stars

Nick Duffy February 6, 2020
Brian Dowling and Kai Widdrington are one of two same-sex pairings on Dancing with the Stars Ireland

Brian Dowling and Kai Widdrington are one of two same-sex pairings on Dancing with the Stars Ireland (Photo: Kyran O’Bryan)

Ireland’s Dancing with the Stars will feature two same-sex dance pairings – showing Strictly Come Dancing how it’s done.

RTE revealed that the out Irish media personality Brian Dowling, who rose to fame after winning British reality series Big Brother, would be paired with professional dancer Kai Widdrington for its annual partner-swapping “switch-up week.”

Meanwhile, radio presenter Lottie Ryan will be paired with celebrity dance partner Emily Barker.

The British version of the show, Strictly Come Dancing, has meanwhile insisted on maintaining its “traditional” male-female pairing format for the competition – despite some one-off group numbers featuring same-sex dances.

Brian Dowling: As an out gay man, same-sex pairing is important to me

Brian Dowling said: “This is about visibility and starting a conversation. Myself and Kai can now dance on the biggest entertainment show on Irish television, I think that is phenomenal. Someone always needs to be the first.

“It has taken a long time to get Ireland here and I’m chuffed that I can be part of that.

“This is celebrating the fact that two guys can dance together on national television. I will be emotional on the night. I’m an out gay man and I’m married, and this is really important to me.”

Dancing with the Stars’ Brian Dowling and Kai Widdrington will take to the floor as same-sex professional and celebrity dance partners, in a first for the dance series, both in the Ireland and in the UK. (Photo: Kyran O’Bryan)

Lottie Ryan added: “For a prime time family show to be so progressive and inclusive is an honour to be part of. To be given the chance to dance with any of the amazing pros is an incredible opportunity.

“Emily is someone who I’ve watched on my telly for years admiring, so I can’t wait to share the floor with her.”

Dancing with the Stars pairings ‘a proud moment for Irish television’

Executive producer Larry Bass said: “Dancing with the Stars is an inclusive show and we are proud to feature two same sex couples in this week’s programme.

“The pairings between our celebrities and pro partners mark an historic moment for Irish television and it’s a positive representation of our diverse society.

“It’s something we have wanted to do for some time and Brian Dowling’s dream gave us the opportunity to make it happen. It’s going to be a great show on Saturday night.”

Other international versions of the show have featured same-sex pairings.

The US version of StrictlyDancing with the Stars, featured a same-sex dance routine for the first time in 2016, when model Nyle DiMarco was paired with pro dancer Keo Motsepe  as part of a Team-Up Challenge.

The Italian version of the show has taken things a step further, featuring a permanent same-sex pairing as part of the competition.

Drag superstar Courtney Act took part in the Australian version with a male partner.

More: Brian Dowling, dancing with the stars, Ireland

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