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