Des Cahill has told RTÉ Entertainment that he originally turned down Dancing with the Stars when he was asked about joining the RTÉ One show, and that it was his wife, Caroline, who persuaded him to take to the dancefloor.
The RTÉ Sport presenter and professional partner Karen Byrne have become the most-talked-about couple from the show, thanks to performances that brought some much-needed feelgood to the month of January.
However, Cahill and Byrne’s partnership nearly didn’t happen.
“I said ‘no’. I had no intention of doing it,” the broadcaster told RTÉ Entertainment during a break in training this week.
“I said to my wife, ‘Do you know, I was asked today to do that?’ And she said, ‘What did you say?’ I said, ‘I wouldn’t do it’. ‘Oh you should!’ she said. ‘It’d be great for you. It’d be good exercise, it’d be fun’.
“I didn’t see it as fun or exercise,” laughed Cahill, “though the exercise thing I understood.”
With the chance to improve his fitness, Cahill signed up.
“Some people said to me, ‘Oh, this will be good for your profile’. I said, ‘Sure, I have a profile! I don’t need it – I’m in sport in RTÉ 34 years!'”
While Cahill is delighted that he’s managed to lose a couple of inches off his waist so far (“My trousers had to be taken in!”), combining work with training has been much tougher than it looks on screen.
“My age and lack of fitness is a disadvantage,” he said. “But the biggest one, I find, is trying to combine it: I didn’t realise there’d be so much involved.
“I had no idea of the amount of time it takes and that’s the one thing if people are asked to go into it next year: it’s very, very time-consuming.”
This weekend, Cahill and Byrne are dancing the Tango to Billy Fury’s Jealousy, and despite their fanbase, Cahill is taking nothing for granted.
“There’s uncertainty every week,” he explained. “It’s not like if you’re doing The Sunday Game – every Sunday after a while you get to know the routine of it. This is doing something very different each time. You’d be worried you’d forget something.”
Tune in to RTÉ One on Sunday at 6.30pm to see if ‘Dancing Dessie’ delivers again.