Dancing with the Stars week 10: semi-final with a tense dance-off and bloody headbutt

Television: comedian Kevin McGahern loses out to Suzanne Jackson, as she joins Brooke Scullion, Damian McGinty and dark horse Carl Mullan in the final

It’s a story of Cotton-Eyed Woe for comedian Kevin McGahern, who loses out on a place in the Dancing With The Stars (RTÉ One, 6.30pm) final after a nail-biting dance-off. McGahern and influencer Suzanne Jackson finish in the bottom two and must hoof it off to decide which will reach next week’s grand decider. With so much at stake, the atmosphere is understandably fraught.

It grows even tenser when judges Arthur Gourounlian and Brian Redmond differ as to who should go through. That leaves the casting decision with Loraine Barry. She notes McGahern and Jackson – dancing to Rednex’s Cotton Eyed Joe and Duran Duran’s Hungry Like The Wolf respectively – each made one or two mistakes.

On that basis, Barry gives the nod to Jackson, who outscored McGahern earlier in the episode. She goes forward to next Sunday, joining front-runners Brooke Scullion and Damian McGinty and surprise finalist Carl Mullan.

It makes for razor-edge viewing. Jackson, dancing with Michael Danilczuk, has been one of the more impressive participants all season. And yet she knows it’s not just about technical ability. “The public has to vote. It is what it is. I’m just happy to take part”.


Carl Mullan is the surprise package. The 2FM presenter, dancing with Emily Barker, had looked like a candidate for early elimination. However, he’s put his head down and improved steadily. Tonight he receives his highest total of 26, for a quickstep to Hit The Road Jack by Throttle. “Fie, fi, foe fum. I smell blood of epic quickstep,” enthuses Gourounlian.

But, as has been the case throughout the set, the pacesetter is Brooke Scullion. She tops the leader board with a clean streak of 30 – and then wins the dance marathon.

All that and she provides the show with its big talking point when accidentally headbutting dance partner Robert Rowiński during the latter endurance test. Talk about bopping until you drop. “I feel horrible,” she says. “I headbutted Robert. He’s bleeding”.

Amid the blood sweat and tears, there are a few odd moments, such as when presenter Jennifer Zamparelli starts rambling about Paul Mescal’s Oscar chances. Elsewhere, the “hilarious” School Of Rock-type sketch in which Mullan explains the rules of the dance marathon to the other contestants will haunt viewers’ dreams for weeks to come.

Yet for all that, this week’s Dancing With The Stars delivered genuine tension with the elimination going down the wire. Plus there is the surprise of Carl Mullan making it to the finish line. It’s unthinkable that he will win – Scullion and McGinty are a step above the rest. Still, if the final is as exciting as this week’s semi, it will be an evening to savour.