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back in biz Dancing with the Stars producer reveals he had to cut staff from 500 to 9 during pandemic

Shinawil are set to produce RTE's new show, Take On Me, hosted by Nicky Byrne


Nicky Byrne, from Westlife will host Take On Me.

Nicky Byrne, from Westlife will host Take On Me.

Nicky Byrne, from Westlife will host Take On Me.

Westlife star Nicky Byrne's brand new RTÉ TV talent show has been devised by the creative team at Shinawil production, which is bouncing back after seeing its business devastated by the pandemic, as staff numbers were cut from over 500 to just nine people.

The new format programme, Take On Me, which will be RTÉ's big Saturday night show this autumn and winter, is also set to be sold to networks around the world.

Pop idol Nicky this week announced that Take On Me is now looking for contestants to participate in the series which features a singing contest and game show, with a whopping €25,000 going to the winner.

Take On Me has been created by Shinawil, the powerhouse independent production company behind previous smash hit Irish TV shows, Dancing With The Stars and The Voice.





Shinawil boss Larry Bass said that while the pandemic hit Shinawil badly, with the company being forced to reduce its staff from 560 to nine people, it did give them the time to work on developing new shows.

"We've had a funny one in that our world collapsed live on air at the start of the lockdown," Larry said.

"We were in the middle of doing Dancing With The Stars at the time.


Larry Bass.

Larry Bass.

Larry Bass.

"We were about to do the semi- final when we realised the world was collapsing around us and we weren't going to get another week out of it.

"We then had to turn the semi-final into the final and rewrite the script at lunchtime on the day of transmission and go with it.

"That's how the pandemic hit us. We had 560 people on the payroll between Dancing With The Stars and a couple of other shows.

"We were doing our first drama…and flying it. Today we have nine staff.

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"However, with the backing of Enterprise Ireland, I managed to get a bank loan and we invested in the core team and kept development going.

"And out of the embers of the pandemic we have developed a couple of new shows, including Take On Me.

"Thankfully, RTÉ agreed to go with it. To be fair to RTÉ, this is a big punt.

"It's a big Saturday night show for eight weeks.

"But we already have interest from international global distributors looking to acquire the rights to do it elsewhere. So we'll have buyers from around the world in Dublin when we record the series in September."

While Take On Me will be presented by Nicky, the judges have yet to be confirmed. "At the minute we are negotiating with judges and all of that sort of stuff," Larry said.

"This is a talent show with a twist in that it's a game show within a talent show.

"What we are looking for is fantastic singers who have the desire to get on and prove that they're the best singer in the country, and in so doing win themselves a cash prize.

"On the show the contestants each week get a chance to say, 'Take on me', and that's where the game element is. And it's all done through singing," Larry added.

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