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cha-cha-cha changes Future of two Dancing with the Stars judges in doubt as RTÉ considers shake-up

The show is about to return after a two-year hiatus due to Covid

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'Dancing with the Stars' judges Brian Redmond, Loraine Barry and Julien ‘Captain Sparkle’ Benson. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

'Dancing with the Stars' judges Brian Redmond, Loraine Barry and Julien ‘Captain Sparkle’ Benson. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

'Dancing with the Stars' judges Brian Redmond, Loraine Barry and Julien ‘Captain Sparkle’ Benson. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

The future of Dancing with the Stars judges Brian Redmond and Julien Benson is in serious doubt as RTÉ considers a major shake-up for the show in 2022.

The two big-name stars, who have been in situ since the show first aired in 2017, may not feature in the hit RTÉ show when it resumes filming after a two-year hiatus due to Covid.

That means professional dancer Loraine Barry could be the only original judge on the panel of the Sunday night shiny-floor show, which has proved to be a big ratings puller for RTÉ.

The celebrity-packed programme, which regularly achieves ratings of more than 500,000 viewers, has been given a revamp for its return in a few months’ time.

An inside source said a decision was taken to “freshen up” the show, which has run for four series and goes down a storm with viewers, who gobble up the glamorous format in a gloomy January.

“They really want to bring the show back with a bang and the decision was made to give it a fresh look, so there’s a lot of decisions to be made.

"They are looking at all their options right now as viewers really missed the show, so they are keen to get it just right when it comes to the show’s return,” she said.

"There are a lot of discussions about the show going on at the moment in terms of who’s going to take part, and every aspect of it will be looked at in detail.”

Both Benson and Redmond have been highly popular judges with viewers, thanks to their very different styles when it came to critiquing celebrities’ performances.

Benson was dubbed ‘Captain Sparkle’ thanks to his love of brightly hued sequinned jackets, donning a different customised garment every week.

In 2018 he went public on his battle with cystic fibrosis on The Late Late Show, where he spoke movingly about the disease.

He said: “I have CF but CF doesn’t have me.”

At times he has had to take a back seat from his work commitments as he prioritised his health, and creative producer Darren Bennett was called on to fill his shoes for some episodes of DWTS.

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An ardent fundraiser for those affected by the disease, Benson has helped raise of €500,000 for the Julian Benson CF Foundation since speaking out about his diagnosis.

A former competitive dancer, Brian Redmond fronts a weekend show on KCLR96fm and also covers shifts on Q102.

Both Redmond and Benson declined to comment when contacted by the Irish Independent and asked whether they were taking part in the new series of the show.

RTÉ has also issued a ‘no comment’.

The curtain came down on the last series of DWTS in March 2020 in a dramatic final which saw Lottie Ryan and Pasquale La Rocca performing to a near-deserted studio in Bray, Co Wicklow.

As the pandemic began to take hold of the country, producers cancelled the semi-final and instead brought the final forward by a week.

RTÉ then decided not to bring the show back for its fifth season last year as the pandemic continued to wreak havoc.

However, the BBC opted to push ahead with its version of the entertainment show, Strictly Come Dancing, and opted to create bubbles among the celebrities and performers to minimise the risk of Covid.

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