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back on TV Mairead Ronan says she's recognised so much more since Dancing with the Stars

Presenter delighted as Ireland's Fittest Family to take over DWTS's primetime Sunday night slot

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Ireland's Fittest Family presenter Mairead Ronan with coaches Anna Geary and Donncha O'Callaghan. Photo: Frank McGrath

Ireland's Fittest Family presenter Mairead Ronan with coaches Anna Geary and Donncha O'Callaghan. Photo: Frank McGrath

Ireland's Fittest Family presenter Mairead Ronan with coaches Anna Geary and Donncha O'Callaghan. Photo: Frank McGrath

Mairead Ronan will start the new year on a high as the fitness show she fronts will replace Dancing With The Stars in RTÉ’s January TV schedule.

The Today FM broadcaster (40) said that working on the dancing show in 2019 had given her priceless exposure to a larger audience.

She has fronted Ireland’s Fittest Family for seven of its eight series as it moves up a gear to take over a new prime-time evening slot.

“I wouldn’t have got recognised very often before DWTS as I think I have one of those very Irish faces. I could easily be your cousin or your one off the radio, it’s hard to tell sometimes,” she said.

“But definitely after DWTS, I became recognisable in a way that I hadn’t realised would happen. It was very odd.

I think there’s so much focus on the show. You're seen in a different light as well.

“You're seen all glammed up and then viewers also see you without a screed of make-up on in your piece-to-camera so you’re kind of recognisable on all ends.

“That goes from how you look when you roll out of bed to how you look with about 14 layers of make-up on.

“I still get recognised in the shops the odd time, even with the mask on. I was making a reservation in a restaurant so I had three quarters of my face covered at the time and the guy goes ‘Mairead, isn’t it?’ and I was like, ‘That’s amazing.’”

The celebrity-packed dancing show has been shelved for 2021 as RTÉ decided it just wasn’t feasible to make such a big production during the pandemic.

This is despite the BBC going ahead with Strictly Come Dancing.

“From years working in telly and media, I know what that costs to do, and what they’ve done in the BBC is just throwing money at a big problem and I don’t think DWTS could have done it here. You’d have to have every single person involved just stay in one place; you’d almost have to replicate what they did on Bake Off,” she said.

But one show that lends itself perfectly to social-distancing regulations is Ireland’s Fittest Families, given that it was all filmed outdoors in Wicklow’s Kilruddery House and participants are families that live together anyway.

Normally it takes the whole summer to film it but Kite Productions had such a tight turn-around schedule that the whole series was done in just three weeks.

Also returning to the show will be coaches Davy Fitzgerald, Anna Geary, Derval O’Rourke, and Donncha O’Callaghan.

She said that while the new series will feel a “little different”, it couldn’t be more appropriate to the current times given that Irish families are spending more time than ever exercising outdoors with their youngsters.

Ireland’s Fittest Family will air on RTÉ One tomorrow at 6.30 pm.

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