Dermot O’Leary’s Comic Relief dance was the result of a drunken idea

“It’s an astonishing act of kindness/stupidity,” says founder Richard Curtis as Mr O’Leary talks through his disco prep for the charity event

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Later this month Dermot O’Leary is doing a 24-hour danceathon (aka Dermot’s Day of Dance) in aid of Comic Relief, an idea that was actually a drunken one.

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Comic Relief founder Richard Curtis explains that The X Factor and radio presenter text him after a night on more than lemonade pitching the idea.

“I received a text from Dermot O’Leary. It said, ‘I had an idea for Red Nose Day last night when I was a bit drunk – how about I get sponsored to dance non-stop for 24 hours for Comic Relief? This morning I’m sober but still think it’s a good idea. What about you?’”

Curtis says his first thought was that it’s a “terrible” idea, telling Radio Times magazine that it’s a “well-established fact that Dermot O’Leary can’t really dance”. This, I must refute, being an avid fan of the Dermot Dance. The X Factor really isn’t ever the same without it. 

Curtis adds that Mr O’Leary has “one signature move” (I hope the Dermerettes will join me in also disagreeing on this; there’s wiggles, spins, pointing…) and that “undeterred by his own limitations” he’ll kick off at 7:20pm on March 12. A whopping 23-and-a-half hours later, Dermot will dance down Regent Street into the London Palladium to finish the marathon live on TV. “If he’s still alive,” Curtis teases.

“It’s an astonishing act of kindness/ stupidity by Dermot,” Curtis adds, “and only one of many Red Nose feats being undertaken that stun me with their brilliance/foolishness.” James Bond, The Vicar of Dibley and Mr Bean are also among the crop of talent.

For Dermot, who details how he’d been in a sweaty Italian-based nightclub when thinking up this master plan, the enormity of the idea is starting to set in.

“Initially, I thought it sounded like a lot of fun, but two weeks ago, reality set in and it started to sound like an endurance test.

“I’m in a perpetual state of lactic acid coursing through my veins,” Dermot explains, who’s racking up about eight hours of a combination of running and dance training.

But he’s got a plan: “I’m determined to keep moving non-stop – though I’ve requested lots of indie, shoe-gazing music to make sure I can slow it down a bit. And if I’m not actually dancing, I’ll be seat dancing!”

Oh, and look out for the ‘running man’. “It’s my go-to move in a social situation,” says Dermot. “A friend of mine taught it to me one long, tortuous night at university and weirdly, it stuck. That and a couple of Irish-dance moves.”

See Dermot Dance on The One Show Thursday 12 March from 7:00pm on BBC1 and follow his every move on BBC Radio 2 and the Red Button – head to rednoseday.com/Dermot for more information and to donate

To read the full interview with Dermot O’Leary and a foreword from Richard Curtis, pick up a copy of Radio Times magazine, on sale Tuesday 3rd March

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