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Following in the PM's footsteps: 6 local personalities recall red-faced experiences

Rachel Dean asks well-known faces what they thought of Theresa May's dance moves and invites them to reveal their own embarrassing moments

Prime Minister Theresa May made quite an entrance to deliver her speech at the Conservative Party conference recently, attempting some moves in time with Abba's Dancing Queen.

This followed her awkward efforts to dance with schoolchildren in Africa. So, did her efforts show that she was simply game for a laugh or was it the wrong time and place for levity?

Here, six local personalities reveal their most embarrassing moments on the dance floor or elsewhere.

Paula McIntyre (51), chef and broadcaster, lives in Portstewart. She says:

When I saw Theresa May's dancing, I did think it was a wee bit embarrassing. It's something you might do after a few drinks, like I'm sure most of us have, but not as a statesperson who should want to be taken seriously in moments like that.

Now everyone is talking about her dancing, distracted by the fact that the country is on its knees.

As for me, I don't think any of my embarrassing moments could be printed! I have had other chefs trying to embarrass me by showing me things to make me laugh on camera.

Thankfully, I usually try to make a joke out of most things myself, so I don't get embarrassed that easily."

Mark McFadden (53), a UTV broadcaster and journalist, lives in Londonderry. He says:

As an Abba fan, I was rather sad to see Theresa May dancing to Dancing Queen.

It was a song that I loved and now, every time I hear it, I'll think of her tragic dancing. It's clear to me, however, that it was done in a knowing, ironic way. She was obviously aware of the reactions to the video of her dancing in Africa and I can appreciate that she can make fun of herself. I don't like to take myself too seriously, either. Balance is a real problem for me. I've had more than 50 years of trying to inject some balance into my life and to my shame and eternal embarrassment I still cannot ride a bike.

As a result, falling over is a speciality of mine - I fell down the same spiral staircase twice in a week. I once stumbled against the big red 'Stop' button beside a department store escalator.

"As elderly shoppers came hurtling down towards me, I beat a hasty, red-faced retreat. It's also true that I managed to set myself on fire in church.

I was blissfully unaware that I was standing too close to the candles until a man started beating out the flames on my back. My wife Donna says when it comes to clumsiness, I'm just naturally gifted."

Emma Heatherington (42), an author, lives in Donaghmore. She says:

I thought Theresa May's dancing was cringe-worthy rather than funny. For her to come on to the stage dancing at an important conference, it just wasn't appropriate, especially considering the state the UK is in at the moment.

With the seriousness of the looming Brexit and everything else she has to sort out, it was really weird that she chose that moment to joke around.

If she was trying to be endearing or relatable to the public, she has gone the wrong way about it. I've never been the biggest fan of hers anyway but she didn't do herself any favours. It just wasn't for me.

I remember one evening at my sister's house when a few of her friends were over and everyone was chatting outside on the patio.

She has those clear patio doors and I went to walk out, thinking the doors were open and walked straight into the glass. I thought I'd broken my nose. While I was doubled over in pain, my sister and friends were doubled over laughing.

I was very embarrassed and sore."

Stephen Clements (45), a Q Radio presenter, lives in Carrickfergus. He says:

To be honest, when I first saw it I thought it was one of those silly viral videos using editing and a green screen. When I found out it was real, I watched it a few more times before I had to tell myself to stop.

It was so brutal and uncomfortable to watch. We were joking about it on the radio, saying that some clever marketing guy likely decided to make a joke referencing May's previous dancing in Africa but specifically told her not to dance, but then she ignored him and danced anyway.

I'm not the best dancer myself, in fact, one of my more embarrassing moments was while dancing.

A few years back, I took part in The Royal Does Strictly in order to raise money for the Children's MRI Scanner Appeal. Myself and others from TV and radio teamed up with staff from the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust to put on the show to raise funds for this great cause.

While the guys choreographing us were great, my dancing was not. My attempt was fairly embarrassing. In my head I looked just like Patrick Swayze, but, when I watched it back, it was more Wayne Sleep. I think I ended up making my family in the crowd super uncomfortable."

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Leading man: Stephen Clements taking part in The Royal Does Strictly with Brenda Creaney of the Belfast Trust in 2012

Cate Conway (42), a Q Radio presenter, lives in Dunmurry. She says:

I thought Theresa May's dancing was so funny. Sometimes music makes you think you can dance, even when you really can't. I don't even think it's her fault, I think that maybe that's just how she is.

She comes across as a very inhibited, awkward person and that was reflected in her robotic dancing.

There seems to be no fluidity to her. I think it's even funnier that she has done this twice now - she must be playing on it.

I can admire that she's taking it in her stride.

One of my own more shameful public moments happened last year at the Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards.

I had to present an award with Charlie Lawson, the actor who plays Jim McDonald in Coronation Street, and we had to walk in from opposite sides of the stage and then meet in the middle.

But, on the night, with the music and lights on, I took it upon myself to try a little spin with Charlie.

Though, obviously oblivious to what I was thinking, Charlie just walked away from me towards the podium and I was left there, twirling around on my own.

It wasn't caught on camera that I know of - I'm glad about that. At the time I really did cringe, however, when I look back now I just laugh.

I've learned my lesson to not attempt any freestyling again."

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Embarrassing moment: Cate Conway with Charlie Lawson

Deirdre Heenan (mid-40s) an Ulster University professor and political commentator, lives in Londonderry. She says:

Theresa May shimmying onto stage at the Tory party conference demonstrated that politics and dancing don't mix. My initial reaction was what was she thinking and what were her advisers thinking?

They already knew from her previous attempt at dancing how many times she was mentioned on different social media platforms for her lack of rhythm.

I don't know why her advisers let her do it once again, especially at this big moment for her keynote speech.

She looked uncomfortable and forced - she is nicknamed Maybot for a reason.

When you just know someone isn't acting authentically, that in itself is uncomfortable to watch. With her speech not providing any real new information, all the headlines were about her choice of entrance music.

She had previously demonstrated that she was not going to be a contender for Strictly Come Dancing. It was dreadful, difficult to watch. Stick to the day job.

Having said that, I can recall an embarrassing moment of my own. Quite recently we were going to an Ulster University work dinner with our Chancellor, James Nesbitt.

I thought it would be a great idea to put false eyelashes on... for the first time.

I wasn't exactly sure how to do it, so I just put a line of eyelash glue along my lid.

I somehow managed to glue my eyelid shut.

When I got to the restaurant, James asked me what was wrong with my eye - he thought my make-up mishap was an eye infection.

While it's embarrassing, it's a memory I'll always look back on and laugh, just like the time in my primary school choir when I was asked to mime because my singing was so bad."

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