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it's back! Joy for fans as RTÉ set to green-light for new series of Dancing with the Stars

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Lottie Ryan and Pasquale La Rocca on their way to victory on Dancing With the Stars. Photo: Kyran O’Brien

Lottie Ryan and Pasquale La Rocca on their way to victory on Dancing With the Stars. Photo: Kyran O’Brien

Lottie Ryan and Pasquale La Rocca on their way to victory on Dancing With the Stars. Photo: Kyran O’Brien

RTÉ’s flagship show Dancing with the Stars is expected to be green-lit shortly, to return for a new series early next year.

The Sunday night show took a hiatus last year due to Covid-19, but is set to make a dazzling return to our small screens in January.

Final details on the fifth series of the big-budget show are expected to be confirmed shortly after it was “paused” by the RTÉ board following the resignation from the board of ShinAwiL producer Larry Bass.

“The show had already gone into pre-production and tentative approaches were made to various celebrities who would be deemed a good fit for the show,” said an insider.

“Everything was long-fingered for a while after what happened with the RTÉ Board, but things appear to be back on track. An announcement is expected to be made shortly.”

The show was embroiled in the controversy over Mr Bass’s decision to step down from the RTÉ board in September after just one meeting, due to concerns about a “conflict of interest”.

In his resignation letter to Arts Minister Catherine Martin, Mr Bass said discussions on the show had started in April, long before he took up his position on the board.

They had been signed off by RTÉ’s editorial board and chief financial officer (CFO) during the summer so being green-lit by RTÉ’s board would have been the final stage.

He also said in his letter – released to this newspaper under Freedom of Information legislation – that he was left “truly shocked” after board chairperson Moya Doherty contacted him to say discussions on Dancing with the Stars were paused.

There was a view that there was a “conflict of interest” in relation to his position as chief executive of ShinAwiL and, as a result, a concern about awarding “the most important contract for us for 2021/2022”.

Mr Bass said he had already made some “very substantial financial commitments” to produce the new series, because he had been asked to have a studio contracted to host the show, in order to confirm the contract.

He said the issue of any possible conflict of interest was addressed prior to his appointment during the interview process with members of the Oireachtas.

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“I will re-iterate again that it was confirmed to ShinAwiL, prior to my appointment to the board, that ShinAwiL was in a pre-production process to produce DWTS,” he said.

In order to protect his business and the livelihoods of hundreds of staff who depended on productions from RTÉ, Mr Bass said he felt he was left with no other choice but to step down from the board.

In response, a spokesperson for the RTÉ board said it “cannot comment on commercially sensitive board discussions”.

“The board has stringent structures in place regarding matters of corporate governance and conflict of interest,” the spokesperson said.

The finale of the last series of Dancing with the Stars was filmed just before Ireland went into full lockdown in March 2020.

Producers had to bring the final programme forward by a week in order to allow for the last episode to take place in an empty studio near Greystones, Co Wicklow.

It saw 2fm broadcaster Lottie Ryan raising the Glitterball trophy along with her Italian professional dance partner Pasquale La Rocca.

When asked about the current situation in relation to the status of Dancing with the Stars, an RTÉ spokesperson said nothing was confirmed yet.

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