Who is Irish superstar Daniel O’Donnell and can he win Strictly Come Dancing?

The Emerald Isle's answer to Cliff Richard is set to hit the Strictly dance floor. Here's your need-to-know guide...

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Wales has Tom Jones, Scotland has Rod Stewart and England has Cliff Richard, but back home in Ireland, Daniel O’Donnell is our main man.

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Ireland’s answer to Sir Cliff – who he’s good pals with by the way – is a veteran of the dance hall and ballroom, known best for belting out tunes from the stage while couples happily waltz around the floor.

This autumn, however, he’ll be called upon to trade the stage for the Strictly ballroom, as he competes for glitterball glory in Strictly Come Dancing 2015.

Who even IS he though?

Known fondly in Irish circles as “Wee Daniel”, Daniel Francis Noel O’Donnell is an Irish country and folk singer, TV presenter and philanthropist who is quite the household name. He was born and raised in Donegal and first hit the music scene in the 1980s, joining his sister Margo’s band when his plans to go into banking fell through.

Is he well known in the UK?

If you grew up in the 80s or 90s it’s incredibly likely you’ll know his name. He first appeared on British TV with Terry Wogan back in 1986.

He made it into the UK charts with his first hit single in 1992: it was called I Just Want to Dance With You and won him a coveted spot on Top Of The Pops.

Thanks to his incredibly close relationship with his fans, his star continued to rise and in 2012, he became the first artist to have a different album in the British charts every year for 25 consecutive years.

One of his highest charting albums was Daniel O’Donnell: In Blue Jeans, which made it all the way to No 3 back in 2003.

And this year, he even sang the all-important closing number at Ireland’s prestigious Rose of Tralee beauty pageant final. He’s some man for one man.

So basically what you’re saying is that he’s the Irish Cliff Richard then?

Some might say that, but “Wee Daniel” is actually in a league of his own. The kind of league that led Father Ted writers to create a sketch that’s essentially entirely inspired by him and his career.

Remember Eoin McLove? He didn’t lick it off the stones, as we say in the old country.

In all seriousness though, his clean cut image and genorosity are almost more famous than his music, and O’Donnell is well known for hosting tea parties for his fans outside his home in Donegal.

There’s even a visitor centre, dedicated solely to Daniel, in the town of Dungloe.

Can he actually dance?

I’ll tell you something for nothing, Daniel’s well able to shake a leg. He’s spent long enough on the stage to know how to tap his feet to a beat.

Does he stand a chance on Strictly?

Twitter’s already having a right old laugh about Daniel’s Strictly dreams, but this is the man who sells out whole cruise ships and gets his own TV series at the drop of a hat.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUyjn-UhmYk

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Watch your back Peter Andre, you’re not the only heart-throb on that dance floor any more…


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