Dancing with the Stars’ Johnny Ward was commended for his bravery on Sunday as he performed a sensational samba on the show just hours after his father died.
The former Love/Hate star told how his dad had begged him to continue his journey on the hit RTE show and just before he passed away said “please don’t disappoint me, please stay in the competition and do it for me.”
John Ward, who was diagnosed with cancer last July, lost his battle on Saturday.
Fighting back tears Johnny, 31, admitted he had a “very difficult week.”
“I want to say a big thank you to all of the doctors and nurses in Tallaght Hospital as well all of the people in Harold’s Cross Hospice who did their very best to keep my father alive. Thank you so much to Emily,” he continued.
Speaking about dancing this week, he said: “On Wednesday we had a very difficult decision to make. I was in the rehearsal room and I kept saying to Emily ‘what’s the point in even doing this?’
“As much as I love competing in the competition, it comes second and family comes first. To go into the Hospice and talk to him and he was just very ‘please don’t disappoint me, please stay in the competition and do it for me.
“It’s a very difficult thing to do but we did it for him and I’m so happy we did.”
Johnny told how of his co-stars have got behind him tonight including eliminated contestants Demi Isaac Oviawe, Eilish O’Carroll and Holly Carpenter: “It is like a family. There is not one person in this while competition that did not send me a message of support.”
Earlier Johnny had set the dance-floor alight with a show-stopping number with with partner Emily Barker to Shape of You by Ed Sheeran.
Following his performance, show host Jennifer Zamparelli said: “I just want to say you did an incredibly brave thing tonight, your father would have been so proud, thanks for giving us such an unreal performance.”
Judge Brian Redmond said: “First of all on behalf of my fellow judges and myself we want to pass on our condolences to you personally and your family.
“There’s precedence with this, it’s happened before in the UK, you didn’t have to dance tonight. The bravery that you have shown to come out. As a father and son myself I know your father would be really proud of you so congratulations.”
Loraine Barry commented: “Your feet get wider in the shoulders and it just gets a little too open but that’s me nit-picking because that quality of samba was to a very high standard.”
Meanwhile, Julian Benson said: “The song might have been In Love with the Shape of You but after that I’m in love with your dancing. It was a no frills samba performance tonight. Your hips Johnny, wow! I know the strength and courage it took for you to get on the floor tonight. You danced for your life tonight, you gave it everything.
“You should be so proud of yourself, it was a wonderful samba, week on week you take on all our critiques big and small, you’re a wonderful dancer and tonight you did a super job.”
The curtain’s came down on last night’s action-packed show with GAA star Denis Bastick becoming the latest celebrity to be booted off the show.
Bastick, who won five All-Irelands with Dublin during a decade-long career, lost out in a dance off with former Fair City actress Clelia Murphy.
The former footballer had sent temperatures soaring as he flaunted his super-fit topless torso with a paso doble with his partner Valeria Milova.
Speaking after the show, the dad-of-two said he initially had reservations about going bare-chested for the dance and admitted he was “bitterly disappointed” about leaving the show.”
First up on the dancefloor last night was country singer Cliona Hagan who tried to emulate last week’s perfect score of 30 with a fruity salsa with partner Robert Rowinski.
Commenting after Cliona said: “I never thought last week I’d get all 10s, every week I just want to better myself.”
Loraine said: “This was a go-getting exciting exhilarating salsa, you had beautiful lifts, just a little critique, keep those feet on the floor, keep the rhythm in the feet.”
Brian said: “The track was called Mujer Latina which translates as Latin woman and you proved a few weeks ago you are a Latin woman.
The body actions were still phenomenal, not the same standard as the samba but a very, very good salsa.”
She scored 25 from the judges.
Broadcaster Mairéad Ronan and John Nolan danced a nautical American Smooth to Beyond the Sea by Robbie Williams.
Judge Brian Redmond said: “At times I thought it was more cross channel ferry than cruise-ship chic, apart from the arms I thought it was beautiful.”
Julian commented: “After that dance, I’d go cruising with you any time. It was elegant, it was graceful, I felt the connection between the two of you. Very nostalgic and well done.”
The judges scored her 22 points.
Clelia Murphy and her partner Vitali Kozmin danced the Charleston to I got rhythm by The Puppini Sisters. But despite their stellar performance which earned them 26 points, they ended up in the dance off.
Comedian Fred Cooke danced a Viennese Waltz with Giulia Dotta to With a little help from my friends by Joe Cocker.
Julian said: “You have a great friend in Giulia, week on week you come out with a different routine, a different dance and she always brings out the best in you.”
The funnyman scored 20 from the judges.
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