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I'll probably have to watch from behind my fingers, but Dan will still be my man

By Fionola Meredith

Published 21/08/2015

I'll admit I made a small snort of surprise and amusement when I heard that Daniel O'Donnell was taking part in this year's Strictly Come Dancing. Maybe you did, too.

There's just something about the Kincasslagh man that makes him ripe for taking the mickey.

The pastel shirts, the Elnett-frozen hair: you know what I'm talking about.

I used to weep tears of laughter when the late Gerry Anderson and sidekick Sean Coyle mimicked Daniel's distinctive soft, slightly braying voice on their morning radio show.

And it was abundantly clear who the singing star in Father Ted, Eoin McLove - with his loyal following of ghoulish grannies - was meant to be based on.

I suspect that the Strictly producers have chosen O'Donnell as this year's comedy old person - you know, the one who's pretty rubbish at the dance moves but who gets plenty of public sympathy votes that keep them in the running for far longer than their (lack of) talent deserves.

And it was this thought that brought me out in a sudden rush of solidarity for my fellow countryman.

You can't say he isn't humble. For instance, he's already admitted that he's not sure if he can reach the standard required of him.

"I can put a few steps together, but can I dance to the level I need to dance? Well, that's a whole other ball game," he said.

He's unfailingly cheerful, too. And while other contestants may be trying to resurrect ailing careers, or desperately boost their public profile, O'Donnell doesn't need to be bothered with any of that. He's already an international singing star - he can afford to do this just for fun.

Going by the evidence at the recent Rose of Tralee festival, where he unleashed some unfortunate backwards gyrations, O'Donnell may be justified in his choreographical concerns.

But who cares? We may be watching from between our fingers, and possibly groaning quietly, but Daniel's still our dog in this race.

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