It’s widely believed that the upcoming series of Dancing With The Stars will finish its run on RTE in the early New Year after six seasons.
But while costs are a factor, insiders say its axing is more because they are “running out of people prepared to do the show, and the pool of talent is dwindling”.
Dancing With The Stars first hit Irish screens in January 2017 has been won by Aidan O’Mahony, Jake Carter, Mairead Ronan, Lottie Ryan and Nina Carberry.
A total of 55 celebrities have taken part in its run so far, and they’ve included the likes of Marty Morrissey, Des Bishop, Johnny Ward, Hoppy Carpenter, Mary Kennedy, Ryan Andrews, Glenda Gilson, Grainne Seoige and Cathy Kelly.
At one stage there were so many RTE stars taking part that Louis Walsh dubbed it ‘dancing with the staff’.
The Masked Singer will be a cheaper alternative, as there will be no need for co-dancers.
Irish viewers are already familiar with the British version, which airs here on Virgin Media.
The show is a Korean franchise, having first aired in South Korea in 2016, and it’s known there as The King of Mask Singer.
The format features celebrities singing songs while wearing head-to-toe costumes and face masks concealing their identities.
Despite first airing in America in 2019 there have been eight seasons in the US because of its popularity there.
Among stars who’ve taken part in the American version are LeAnne Rimes, Donny Osmond, Gladys Knight and Nick Carter.
There have been three seasons of the British version, which began in 2020, and it has attracted between six and seven million viewers.
It has been commissioned for a fourth and fifth series.
Winners of the UK version include Joss Stone and Natalie Imbruglia.
Westlife star Mark Feehily has been the most prominent Irish celebrity to have taken part in the British version, having finished third last year.
Belfast born Gloria Hunniford also took part in that run.
A total of 55 countries are now showing their own version of The Masked Singer and Ireland is one of the few territories in Europe which has yet to come on board.
A TV insider said: “Virgin Media boss Bill Malone has said in the past the station are interested in perhaps screening an Irish version.
“Dancing With The Stars on RTÉ begins every year in January and lasts until March, so if an Irish version does air in the same slot, it will be running side by side for most of its run.”
The producers of Dancing With The Stars are ShinAWil.
“If ShinAWil try and bid for The Masked Dancer and target RTE for it for January 2024, it could set up a battle royale with Virgin Media who may feel their territory is being encroached upon,” another TV expert added.