Brian Dowling and Kai Widdrington. Picture: Kyran O’Brien

By Steve Neville

Dancing with the Stars will create history this weekend as two sets of same-sex couples will take to the dance floor.

This Saturday will see the show’s ‘switch-up week’, where for one week only the celebrities change dance partner.


Brian Dowling and Kai Widdrington, and Lottie Ryan and Emily Barker, will take to the floor as same-sex professional and celebrity dance partners.

The move is a first for the dance series, both in Ireland and the UK.

“This is about visibility and starting a conversation,” said Brian Dowling.

“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.

The former Big Brother star added: “I’m an out gay man and I’m married, and this is really important to me.”

Ahead of dancing with Emily Barker, 2FM presenter Lottie Ryan said: “For a prime time family show to be so progressive and inclusive is an honour to be part of.

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“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.”

Larry Bass, Executive Producer at production company ShinAwil said the news marks a “historic” moment for Irish TV.

“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.”

History on DWTS as same-sex couples to take to the floor

Brian Dowling and Kai Widdrington. Picture: Kyran O’Brien

The full line-up of pairings and routines for switch-up week are:

  • Aidan Fogarty and Kylee Vincent – Cha-Cha-Cha – Feels Like Home – Sigala
  • Ryan Andrews and Laura Nolan – Waltz – Open Arms – Journey
  • Fr. Ray Kelly and Giulia Dotta – Charleston – National Express – The Divine Comedy
  • Mary Kennedy and Ryan McShane – Jive – Twistin’ the Night Away
  • Gráinne Gallanagh and Pasquale La Rocca – Rumba – Beautiful People – Ed Sheeran ft Khalid
  • Sinéad O’ Carroll and John Nolan – Viennese Waltz – Guilty – Paloma Faith
  • Lottie Ryan and Emily Barker – Charleston – Woman Up – Meghan Trainor
  • Brian Dowling and Kai Widdrington – Quickstep – Out of Our Heads – Take That.
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