From manic (Euro) vi­sion in silk to global su­per­hoofer, the Michael Flat­ley story...

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - YOUR TV WEEK -

hen Michael Flat­ley soared onto the stage at what then was the Point Theatre dur­ing the 1994 Euro­vi­sion Song Con­test, seem­ingly float­ing on a wave of blue blou­son silk and wear­ing a halo of hair­spray, he im­me­di­ately planted him­self for­ever in our con­scious­ness.

In an in­stant, River­dance be­came part of the fab­ric of what we are. Fan­ci­fully per­haps, many com­men­ta­tors even place it along­side our quar­ter-fi­nal plac­ing in Italia ’ 90 as an event that reignited na­tional pride and helped us to re­claim our flag af­ter a quar­ter of a century of the Trou­bles.

His later tra­jec­tory ticked many of the boxes nec­essa r y to cre­ate show­biz leg­end. Fired from the River­dance show af­ter the pro­duc­ers found his de­mands ex­ces­sive, he started his own global fran­chise, Lord OfThe Dance, pic­tured.

Far from suck­ing busi­ness from the tour­ing River­dance shows, LOTD sim­ply in­creased the mar­ket for Ir­ish dance shows glob­ally and made Flat­ley a for­tune. Just a fort­night ago, the an­nual Sun­day Times Rich List put his for­tune at € 233m. So re­plac­ing the rhino horn stolen re­cently from his Castle­hyde man­sion near Fer­moy won’t be a prob­lem.

Flat­ley re­mains a fas­ci­nat­ing fig­ure, a bril­liant dancer with a vaguely pre­pos­ter­ous hy­brid Ir­ish-Amer­i­can ac­cent much loved by im­per­son­ators, es­pe­cially Mario Rosen­stock.

Tonight, 30 years af­ter the first per­for­mance that, al­most lit­er­ally as it hap­pened, cat­a­pulted him to fame, Chris­tine Bleak­ley pre­sents Michael Flat­ley: A Night To Re­mem­ber (8pm, TV3 and UTV), in which the man him­self looks back over an amaz­ing ca­reer.

And, no mat­ter what you think of him, I defy any­one not to tap a foot at some point dur­ing the show. This en­chant­ing doc­u­men­tary, nar­rated by Martin Clunes, ex­plores the sur­pris­ing pow­ers and abil­i­ties of ba­bies, their adapt­abil­ity and re­silience, and the var­i­ous ‘mir­a­cles’ that en­sure their sur­vival. Ba­bies are born with a sur­pris­ingly strong grip, an abil­ity to mimic fa­cial ex­pres­sions and, of course, a mas­tery of the all-im­por­tant lan­guage of cry­ing. What’s more, young ba­bies (like the ones above) are quite at home in wa­ter. We hear from one mother whose baby, in his pushchair, was blown off a har­bour wall into the sea – and sur­vived, un­harmed, af­ter six min­utes deep un­der­wa­ter. Watch­ing this amaz­ing film, you will see ba­bies in a new light – as great sur­vivors, with su­per­pow­ers we adults have lost.

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