Ireland’s version of Strictly to have same-sex pairing for first time ever

Ireland's Dancing with the Stars will see contestant Brian Dowling pair-up with male pro-dancer Kai Widdrington

Strictly Come Dancing (BBC)

Former Big Brother contestant Brian Dowling will be part of the first same-sex dance couple on Ireland’s version of Strictly Come Dancing, Dancing with the Stars.


Dowling, who was originally partnered with professional dancer Laura Nolan, will pair up with Kai Widdrington for the show’s ‘switch-up week,’ when contestants swap pro-dance partners.

It marks the first official same-sex pairing between a contestant and professional in the history of both the UK and Irish equivalents of Strictly Come Dancing. Last year, Strictly professionals Johannes Radebe and Graziano Di Prima (pictured above) teamed up to perform a routine together, resulting in nearly 200 complaints.

The pairing between Dowling and Widdrington follows the inclusion of Dancing on Ice‘s first same-sex partnership, which saw Steps star Ian ‘H’ Watkins and professional skater Matt Evers team up for the ITV series.

Dowling said that it was “phenomenal” to be part of television history, stating: “This is about visibility and starting a conversation. Myself and Kai can now dance on the biggest entertainment show on Irish television, I think that is phenomenal.

“Someone always needs to be the first. It has taken a long time to get Ireland here and I’m chuffed that I can be part of that,” he said. “This is celebrating the fact that two guys can dance together on national television. I will be emotional on the night. I’m an out gay man and I’m married, and this is really important to me.”

Following Dowling’s same-sex pairing, could we see the same in this year’s Strictly Come Dancing…?


Ireland’s Dancing With The Stars airs on Saturday at 6.35pm on RTE One.