A comedian walks into a barre … Shane Bourne joins Dancing with the Stars, writes Colin Vickery
Daniel MacPherson stunned the TV world in May when he announced that he was quitting as host of Dancing with the Stars, but there was one person who wasn’t surprised — Edwina Bartholomew.
MacPherson had just starred in sci-fi film Infini and become engaged to long-time actor girlfriend Zoe Ventoura when he made his shock decision.
“I’ve worked hard to reinvigorate my acting career and I’m focused on that 100 per cent,” MacPherson says.
“Eddie (Edwina) will have to find a new co-host.”
Bartholomew reckons she pretty much knew a year ago that MacPherson was going to pull the pin after seven seasons of the Channel 7 dance show.
“I suspected at the end of last season that Dan wasn’t going to come back,” Bartholomew says.
“He was filming a new movie at the time and had just signed on to a big project in New Zealand, and I know he was super-keen to focus on his movie career.
“It was on the cards for months, and he had done the job for seven years, so it was time for him to focus on becoming a big Hollywood megastar.”
This isn’t the first time Dancing with the Stars has undergone a significant change. Original host Daryl Somers quit in 2007. In 2011, co-host Sonia Kruger jumped ship to host Big Brother on rival Nine.
Big changes can either refresh or sink a show. Kruger’s replacement, former Spice Girl Mel B, was widely panned and only lasted one season.
Bartholomew took over in 2013 and was an immediate hit. The 31-year-old, who also presents weather on Sunrise, quickly developed an easy rapport with MacPherson.
That made Seven’s decision about who would follow MacPherson absolutely crucial.
Get it wrong and it could be curtains.
“I was really nervous as to who they (Seven) would choose to put in that role because Dan did such a wonderful job,” Bartholomew admits. Enter Shane Bourne. The 65-year-old comedian had been largely absent from TV screens since Nine’s ill-fated 2012 drama Tricky Business.
But Bourne had form. He had hosted four seasons of monster hit Thank God You’re Here on Ten and Seven. He also spent six years telling jokes on Somers’ variety show Hey Hey It’s Saturday.
Media analyst Steve Allen reckons Bourne is a great choice. He could give Dancing with the Stars a ratings boost.
“Dancing with the Stars’ audience skews to the 55-plus age group so Daniel was probably chosen as host to try and attract a younger audience but that was always a bit of a stretch,” Allen says.
“Shane is a better fit. He will add a new dimension to the show with his comedic background, acting skills and dry wit.”
Bourne describes his decision to take on the hosting role as more a lifestyle choice than a career choice.
He was tired of the grind of long-form weekly drama.
“As you get older, you get a little bit more selective,” Bourne says. “I’d had a number of TV offers and gone pretty close to saying yes and signing on the dotted line, and then thinking, do I really want to do that?.
“When this came up, it was like a light went on. The show’s live, there’s a band, dancing, a few laughs, and it is one night a week.”
So has Bourne had a congratulatory phone call from Somers given the Hey Hey It’s Saturday and Dancing with the Stars connection?
“No, but I remember seeing Daryl at the Logies after he finished up as host and him saying, ‘You should be doing this.’ I was doing Thank God You’re Here and City Homicide at the time. Funny how it has turned out.”
MacPherson isn’t the only exit on Dancing with the Stars. The show has lost judge Adam Garcia — wife Nathalia Chubin is expecting the couple’s first child in September.
The judging panel is back to three — Todd McKenney, Helen Richey, and Kym Johnson — with guest appearances by overseas favourite Bruno Tonioli.
To combat the changes, Seven has gone all out to ensure ratings success by signing probably the best roster of contestants for some years.
Seven’s The Morning Show host Larry Emdur will hit the dance floor alongside Bachelor Tim Robards, chart topper John Paul Young, Paralympian Kelly Cartwright, former weather presenter Emma Freedman, My Kitchen Rules contestant Ash Pollard, model Samantha Harris, NRL champion Mat Rogers, Olympic diver Matt Mitcham, as well as AFL star Jude Bolton and wife Lynette.
“This show is all about the contestants,” Bourne says. “They’re the ones putting themselves on the line. It is similar to Thank God You’re Here in that sense. A lot of contestants are going into unknown territory. “It is fish out of water.” Bartholomew’s punishing travel schedule for Sunrise means she and Bourne have had little time to get to know
one another. The pair met for the first time at the Switched On photo shoot and won’t get too many more opportunities before the first show.
“When they told me it was Shane I was thrilled,”
“The show’s live, there’s a band, dancing, a few laughs, and it is one
night a week”
SHANE BOURNE COULDN’T SAY NO
Bartholomew says. “He is funny. He is so experienced. I think he will bring that old-school variety flavour to the show.
“I’m going to have to be on my comedy toes this season or he’ll steal all the punchlines.
“I’ll be left with nothing.”
DANCING WITH THE STARS, CHANNEL 7, SUNDAY, 7PM
Edwina Bartholomew with new co-host Shane Bourne (main) and (below) with former colleague Daniel MacPherson.