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Amanda Byram leaves the Glit­ter­ball be­hind and dons a tutu to tell us how grate­ful she is to be back work­ing in Ire­land again

Amanda Byram lies play­fully on the ground in a bal­le­rina tutu. Out­side, the builders who are paving the road along­side the stu­dio stop and take sneaky side looks through the glass. Amanda is no stranger to stop­ping traf­fic – her ath­letic physique and stat­uesque fea­tures have al­lowed her to get steady work in both Bri­tain and Amer­ica, but right now she is just en­joy­ing be­ing back on home soil.

‘I am not full time in Ire­land, but this is my first sort of pro­fes­sional re­turn to Ire­land and I love it,’ she says, play­fully toss­ing around her rib­bon laces. ‘I have wanted to do some­thing like this for a long time but it just hasn’t hap­pened be­cause of my sched­ule and the shows or the projects just weren’t right for me.

‘I al­ways knew in the back of my head that it would tran­spire but I didn’t know what ve­hi­cle it would end up be­ing. I just love be­ing in Ire­land and even in Eng­land I love be­ing around Ir­ish peo­ple and their sense of hu­mour.

‘You just don’t have that when you are away – es­pe­cially in LA. I missed it so much. When you are liv­ing abroad there’s this un­spo­ken sense of com­mu­nity and un­der­stand­ing [among the Ir­ish] whether it’s a wink or a nod or a shake of the head. Even if it is a neg­a­tive thing and peo­ple are be­ing cyn­i­cal, there’s such a lovely sense of com­mu­nity. Be­ing home and be­ing with Ir­ish peo­ple is just good for the soul.’

For the first time in 16 years, Amanda landed a long-term project in Ire­land, work­ing as the co­host on the hit RTÉ bo­nanza Danc­ing With The Stars. She has fronted in­ter­na­tional box of­fice shows be­fore like To­tal Wipe­out for the BBC and The Swan in Amer­ica but work­ing for RTÉ on the €2 mil­lion-bud­get show is a dream come true.

Un­for­tu­nately, due to a hec­tic work­ing sched­ule she hasn’t been af­forded the chance to spend any con­sid­er­able time at home with the folks in Castle­knock.

‘I’m so busy in Lon­don so I can’t stay here all of the time,’ she says. ‘Up un­til the end of the se­ries I had hoped to stay at home but be­cause of

pre­vi­ous com­mit­ments I won’t get to stay home at all re­ally. The game plan was to stay over for a few weeks but I’m gut­ted now that I can’t. You just about get used to lov­ing Dublin and then you have to pack up and head back to Lon­don.

‘We have talked about mov­ing here full-time but it would al­ways de­pend on work. My hus­band has a re­ally suc­cess­ful pro­duc­tion com­pany in Bri­tain so it would be re­ally hard for him to be here full-time.

‘I was talk­ing about bring­ing the Big Breakfast to Ire­land – which would shake things up a bit – and about how much fun that would be. But my agent said that would mean you would be in Ire­land all week. I could def­i­nitely do it for a year but long-term, I don’t know. Com­mut­ing is fine but long-term that would be ex­haust­ing.’

The prospect of com­mut­ing, even if it would give her a more sig­nif­i­cant foothold in the Ir­ish TV land­scape, is some­thing that Amanda would like to avoid for now.

‘ The com­mute, at the minute, is the only neg­a­tive about the show,’ she says. ‘Ev­ery as­pect of the show I’m in love with ex­cept for the get­ting over, and the com­ing and go­ing. Get­ting back on the plane is killing me – I think be­cause I’m not hav­ing enough time in ei­ther coun­try to make it work.

‘I’m con­stantly liv­ing out of a suit­case but that’s a first world prob­lem. Thank­fully my hus­band comes over most week­ends and he will only be miss­ing three shows out of the full run. He loves it and is re­ally sup­port­ive of me.

‘He sees how happy I am and he en­joys watch­ing me in my el­e­ment – be­cause live TV is what I re­ally want to do.

‘So when I do other work it’s just not the same. And there aren’t that many shows that you can say that you can grab hold of and make it your own and be live for two hours of prime time TV. It’s TV gold dust that just doesn’t come around that of­ten.’

Live TV may be her forte but it has nor­mally been in a solo ca­pac­ity. This time around she has been paired with former Westlife pin-up Nicky Byrne in a re­la­tion­ship that has blos­somed quickly into a ma­ture and skilled part­ner­ship.

‘It was a risk when it was first floated,’ she

Get­ting back on the plane is killing me – I think be­cause I’m not hav­ing enough time in ei­ther coun­try to make it work

➤ agrees. ‘I think ev­ery­one was aware of that – RTÉ as well as Nicky and my­self. Maybe that’s why it didn’t go wrong, be­cause we were all so de­ter­mined that it wouldn’t fail. RTÉ have put a lot of money into this, I think it’s the most amount they have put into a show for some time.

‘I think that ev­ery­one is re­ally se­ri­ous about this, there’s no mess­ing around. I love what Nicky does – and the thing is, you for­get how much telly he has ac­tu­ally done. In­clud­ing the Westlife days, he’s prob­a­bly been on TV longer than I have!

‘I think it came down to chem­istry – we did a screen test to­gether and we just clicked. I had known him for a while and al­ways thought he was pretty hot and sound. When­ever we bumped into one an­other, we al­ways got on. He was a re­ally good choice for me.

‘He looks the part, he’s funny and the con­tes­tants love him. He’s such a great guy. He has this re­ally dry sense of hu­mour which I love and he has these re­ally bad dad jokes which crack him up and no­body else.’

I mention that the rat­ings have been steady in the show, which must be a big re­lief for a fledg­ling for­mat. But Amanda says it’s the re­ac­tion on the street that has re­ally im­pressed her.

‘It’s a for­mat that is much loved, and tried and tested so you can’t mess with it,’ she says. ‘We were acutely aware that if it didn’t go well, we were mess­ing with a world­wide BBC for­mat and we have them to an­swer to as well.

‘For me it was equally im­por­tant that the pub­lic were happy. It’s great that my bosses are happy but my go-to barom­e­ter are the girls in the Aer Lin­gus lounge on a Mon­day morn­ing. When I check in I get the full run­down on the show and whether they loved the dress or what dance they liked. That’s my guide be­cause that’s the real punter who is watch­ing. If the pub­lic are watch­ing then I’m happy.

‘I’ve caught peo­ple chat­ting about it with­out know­ing that I’m there. I walked into the lift of my ho­tel in the city cen­tre the other day and there were three gen­er­a­tions of women. The daugh­ter was about 26 and her mom and then her mom again. They were just com­ing back from lunch and the girl said, “look Mommy, it’s the girl off that show with Des Cahill”. The granny didn’t say any­thing for a minute and then went, “Des Cahill is a very brave man” and then just walked off!

‘ The other two had a chat about how much they loved the clothes and the show. That was three gen­er­a­tions of women who were en­gaged – how could you not be happy with that? That’s TV gold. You hope to nail one gen­er­a­tion but to get three, you’re laugh­ing.’

What has re­ally kept DWTS at the fore­front of the pub­lic’s imag­i­na­tion is the will­ing­ness of the pro­duc­ers to change things up. Two weeks ago they brought in a dance- off which added more jeop­ardy to a show but also heaped fur­ther pres­sure on both the dancers and pre­sen­ters.

‘ The dance- offs have def­i­nitely brought an edge,’ Amanda says. ‘No­body wants to be in a dance- off and it’s more pres­sure for us as hosts. But it’s been the same ev­ery week – there’s never been a week where it’s been easy to send a cou­ple home, that mo­ment is dread­ful.

‘I get the name in my ear so I know be­fore it’s an­nounced. I have this in­ter­nal strug­gle, where I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news but that’s the job. The dance- off is equally as hard but it is fairer. [As a pre­sen­ter] you have to bal­ance the segue from the joy of the com­pe­ti­tion to de­liv­er­ing pretty s**t news ba­si­cally. But at the end of the day some­one has to go home and there can only be one win­ner.’

Pro­fes­sion­ally, though, Amanda is al­ready the big win­ner from the se­ries. Her weekly sar­to­rial choices have sent so­cial me­dia sites into melt­down and her newly-ig­nited pro­file will help her launch a range of be­spoke fit­ness and leisure wear. While RTÉ have yet to sign her up for a sec­ond se­ries, she says that of course she would be happy to do it, al­though she doesn’t take it for granted that DWTS is com­ing back.

‘I know what I want and what works for me and if there’s a word in the script that doesn’t roll off my tongue, I know how to change it. That ➤

➤ comes nat­u­rally for me now – I’ve done around 1,200 live broad­cast shows at this point in my ca­reer so if it didn’t then there would prob­a­bly be some­thing wrong with me.

‘I know how I like to look and I’m just com­fort­able as me. I would hap­pily sign up for sea­son two but we haven’t heard any­thing yet. I have worked on shows be­fore that have smashed the rat­ings and don’t get com­mis­sioned and it’s al­ways a bud­get thing. So fin­gers crossed and touch wood but you just never know.

‘My motto is al­ways that your next job could be your last so you have to give it your all. You can’t get com­pla­cent, es­pe­cially in tele­vi­sion, be­cause there is al­ways some­one younger and more am­bi­tious run­ning up be­hind you. You just en­joy and em­brace what you have and do the best you can and hope­fully peo­ple like it.’

The 43-year- old wed her part­ner Ju­lian Okines last April in a pri­vate ser­vice and she says that she hopes to start hav­ing chil­dren soon. She has never been shy about her de­sire to start a fam­ily, say­ing ‘you can’t re­ally plan’ the curve­balls life can some­times throw at you. And she won’t be let­ting age quell her ma­ter­nal in­stinct.

‘Fo­cus­ing on the show, my ca­reer and life has just been full- on but we are hav­ing fun prac­tis­ing for ba­bies and it’s all in the hands of the gods,’ she laughs. ‘You can only try. I’m fit and healthy and I look af­ter my­self so if it hap­pens then it hap­pens. There’s no point putting pres­sure on my­self.

‘It’s lovely be­ing mar­ried and he’s like my best friend. We have been best pals since the day we met and there was never a mo­ment where we didn’t agree that this was go­ing to be it for­ever – we just knew it would be. When you know you know.

‘We are a year mar­ried in April, can you be­lieve that? We were think­ing about go­ing away some­where nice for our an­niver­sary to chill out. We stand shoul­der to shoul­der on a lot of things – with work we have com­plete mu­tual re­spect and we think alike pretty much on every­thing. That’s why it re­ally works. He’s prob­a­bly the more ro­man­tic of the two of us. He is al­ways much more mind­ful to re­mind me where we are at and to take a mo­ment to tell me how much he loves me. He’s the one who stops just to ac­knowl­edge the re­la­tion­ship. If I was left to my own de­vices I don’t think I would ever stop so we’re very good for each other in that sense.’

We are hav­ing fun prac­tis­ing for ba­bies and it’s all in the hands of the gods. You can only try

Amanda with her hus­band Ju­lian Okines

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