Daniel O'Donnell

September 29th 2015, Daniel’s Strictly Diary Week 4

AFTER 35 years in showbusiness I can’t believe how nervous I was stepping out on to the dancefloor at this weekend’s Strictly Come Dancing live shows.

There was a moment when I actually couldn’t catch my breath. It was a very strange sensation.

To be honest, I still find it a bit surreal that I’m actually dancing on Strictly. But now that I’m here, there’s no going back. Well, at least until I’m kicked out.

I know I have a big task ahead, but nothing would delight me more than to be here till Christmas.


After another week of intensive training with Kristina, I treat myself to a night out at the Jersey Boys show in London with friends Paddy and Annette. It’s just the tonic.


I take a train to Luton to attend a charity coffee morning. Later in the evening, my stepson Michael and his girlfriend Sarah join me for dinner out in the city.


It’s the final week of rehearsals in the build up to Friday night’s show. The beautiful voice of Belfast singing legend the late Ruby Murray fills the room and I dance to the soundtrack of When Irish Eyes Are Smiling. It’s the song that Strictly have chosen for my waltz.


I’m in rehearsals all day with Kristina, repeating my dance over and over. Kristina tells me my biggest problem is that I keep dropping my shoulders.


Who said waltzing is easy? I certainly haven’t felt that during my training. As Kristina told me, the waltz is very, very technical. I hope I don’t make a bags of it.


I wake up feeling like I’ve been through a war. I’m aching all over. You might laugh, but this style of dancing requires a lot of stamina and physical strength. My shoulder is sore, my arms are paining me. When I hear that Jeremy Vine said his ears are even sore, I wonder what kind of a dance he’s doing!


Majella has arrived back from Tenerife to give me moral support. I think she’s more nervous about the show than I am because she has no control over what’s going to happen. And I think I have! But I have a great start to the day when I wake up with my little granddaughter, Olivia, beside me on the pillow. She’s a wee dote who never stops smiling.

When I arrive at the studio and see the Irish-themed production for my dance I become emotional. There are amazing scenes of picturesque Ireland all around the studio, with shamrocks and a river down the floor through the magic of technology.

As I rehearse, I feel that I’m floating across the floor. Kristina has taught me well. I’m ready for the live performance. Then I look at the others doing cha-chas and tangos and my heart stops. I have some big challenges coming down the line if I stay in the competition. When my dance ends, I’m both relieved and delighted to get a respectable 24 out of 40 from the judges.daniel dancing