Dancing with the Stars 2023: 2FM’s Carl Mullan wins in one of the biggest shocks in show’s history

Television: The 2FM personality comes out on top ahead of bookies’ favourite Brooke Scullion and early frontrunners Suzanne Jackson and Damian McGinty

Amid tears, cheers and swirls of confetti, a visibly stunned Carl Mullan has been crowned winner of Dancing with the Stars 2023 (RTÉ One, 6.30pm). The victory, which Mullan shares with pro partner Emily Barker, rates as a big upset, with the 2FM personality placing ahead of the bookies’ favourite Brooke Scullion and early front-runners Suzanne Jackson and Damian McGinty.

“It’s an out-of-body experience,” says the 33-year-old Dubliner. “It feels like a dream,” adds pro-Barker, who wins the contest for the first time. “I’m in total shock.”

She isn’t the only one. Early in the season, Mullan seemed content to play the part of token cheeky chap. But he has improved steadily across the 11 weeks and his two dances in the final receive lavish praise from the judges – and a combined score of 59 out of a possible 60.

“Those knee walks. Great energy. You’ve done it again,” says Loraine Barry as Mullan and Barker open by reprising their paso doble from week one.


The duo do even better with their show dance to Celestial by Ed Sheeran – dedicated to Mullan’s grandmother on the first anniversary of her death. “You’re here and you absolutely deserve your place. Grandparents and kids all over the country will be watching,” says Brian Redmond,

It’s a heart-warming story and viewers will be glad to see a rank outsider receive the Glitterball trophy. And yet his victory – decided by public vote – confirms that, under all the glitter and glamour, Dancing With The Stars is a popularity contest rather than a dancing one.

Mullan, after all, has consistently placed behind front-runners Scullion, Jackson and McGinty. That remains the case in the final, with Jackson and McGinty both receiving a clean streak of perfect scores – and McGinty winning a standing ovation for his show dance.

Not that anyone will begrudge Mullan. He’s been humble and enthusiastic – an underdog for whom it’s easy to root for.

It’s also been a good first showing for new presenter Doireann Garrihy, who has held her own against the returning Jennifer Zamparelli.

Dancing With The Stars bows out with its future uncertain. RTÉ has shaved a week off the latest season to trim overheads. The show is expensive to produce – and a seventh series has yet to be greenlit. But if this is the final curtain, then DWTS takes its leave with one of the biggest shocks in its history.