'Shocked' Karen Byrne slams RTÉ after Dancing With The Stars shelved
PROFESSIONAL dancer Karen Byrne has slammed RTÉ for not making a better effort to bring back Dancing With The Stars this season in the wake of Strictly Come Dancing this week announcing a string of celebrities taking part in its return to our screens this autumn.
Karen admits she was "shocked" when she was given the bad news that the hugely popular Dancing With The Stars was being shelved this season due to safety issues over Covid-19.
Dubliner Karen (27) will be seen acting for the first time when Fair City returns to RTÉ One tonight after an absence of four months.
"I actually told one of the producers from Dancing With The Stars that I had a part in Fair City and she was like 'Karen I have bad news, the show isn't coming back'," Karen tells the Sunday World.
"I thought she was joking. I thought she was ringing to see if I wanted to do a trial with a celebrity or something, because normally it would be around that time when I would start trialling with people, but she said 'no, we're not back, it's bad news'.
"I was like 'Jesus, I never expected it'. I think it was just one of those things that everyone spoke about, but anyone I spoke to they'd say 'they'd never stop Dancing With The Stars, the audience is too big', but they went and did it."
Karen insists that more ways to allow Dancing With The Stars to return should have been explored.
"The way I look at is like Strictly are doing it... Dancing With The Stars is equally popular in Ireland and I just can't understand why they couldn't have taken similar measures to carry it on here."
There are plans for Strictly to isolate the celebrities with their dance partners for several weeks so they can get up close and personal for the likes of waltzes and tangos.
It is something Karen - who found love with singer Jake Carter on the show - was prepared to do.
"I would have done what I had to do for it to continue," she stresses. "It's a big commitment, but I think people would have still jumped on it."
Larry Bass, CEO of ShinAwiL Productions, which makes Dancing With The Stars for RTÉ, said he was "devastated" they could not return in January but insisted they had no choice.
"While we had a robust plan to deliver a different but spectacular series in 2021, regrettably, Ireland continues to grapple with the ever-changing impact of Covid-19 and the risk to the show and everyone involved remains too high," he said.
Over 150 people were employed by the show.
"Some of our suppliers are small businesses that rely on one or two major contracts per year to survive as do we. The future is now incredibly uncertain for us all and our families," he added.