It’s the glitziest show on RTÉ One and pulls in viewing figures of over 500,000 every weekend.
ut ShinAwiL producer Larry Bass has said he is still in the dark over the future of Dancing With The Stars amid growing concerns about soaring energy costs and budget restrictions.
He also cited concerns over the lack of licence-fee reform, which has put RTÉ under increasing financial pressure in a rapidly-changing digital landscape.
There are fears that the Sunday night programme, which has seven celebrities remaining and ends on March 19, may have taken its final spin on our terrestrial TV schedule.
Filmed at Fonthill Studios in Clondalkin, Dublin, the show is rumoured to cost around €2m to make every year, but has been badly hit by the energy crisis.
“Unfortunately, like the rest of the country, we have no control over external costs like fuel, and we use so much heating and light for the studio,” Mr Bass said.
“We work off the grid, we have our own generators which use diesel – you’re talking about powering a 50,000 square foot studio.
“They’re not fixed costs, so there’s no way of knowing how much the fuel is going to cost from one year to the next.
“There’s also all our transport costs of getting people to and from the studio, while Brexit has meant getting our costumes over from the UK every week has become even more expensive.
“There’s much more paperwork to get them back and forth now, so what used to be a fairly standard courier is now a minor miracle to get things over and back in time. All these things negatively affect what we can plan for.”
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Having brought the show to Ireland in 2017 after years of planning, Mr Bass said that in the company’s 24 years, Dancing With The Stars has been ShinAwiL’s favourite show to make.
“All the staff absolutely love it. Week in, week out, they give blood to the show, and while it’s very hard, they love it,” he said.
“It’s fantastic television that entertains the whole nation, and people take a professional pride in what they’re doing.
“And we’re delighted as a company to have had the opportunity to make the show.
“It took us many years to get the BBC to agree to allow an Irish version and then for RTÉ to come on board. They had a lot of faith in it. And I think the Irish public have grown to love it even more.”
As for its future, Mr Bass said it is “not our call” and the decision lies 100pc with the national broadcaster.
RTÉ has put the slot out to tender and ShinAwiL has submitted a pitch for a January 2024 show, as have other production companies.
But a final decision is not expected to be made until the summer.
“It’s not up to us, that’s entirely up to RTÉ. As long as they want to make the show, then so will we,” Bass said.
He added that it was “deeply troubling” that RTÉ has not had any substantial licence fee increase since 2008, despite repeated calls for reform of the station’s funding structure.
“It hasn’t had any change in its income in years and yet they’re expected to run a national broadcasting service with reducing money, year-on-year,” he said.
“All shows are in danger, not just ours. “Everything will be compromised because there’s less money in the organisation, whether it’s a radio show or a TV show.”
As for the current season, Mr Bass believes it’s one of the strongest to date and praised the chemistry between co-presenters Doireann Garrihy and Jennifer Zamparelli.
He reckons they compare very favourably with their Strictly Come Dancing counterparts Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman.
“The two girls complement each other so well,” he said. “They’re different personalities and I actually believe they’re better than the two presenters in the UK.”