For a show that began life as a piece of half-time entertainment at the Eurovision Song Contest, 21 years on Riverdance is in rude health.

Sunday, 8th May 2016, 7:43 am

With another huge tour, that takes in three nights at Portsmouth Guildhall, the Irish dancing show has grown into a global phenomenon, with tours all over the world.

Executive producer Julian Erskine has been involved since the very beginning.

He says: ‘I came on board in summer ’94, originally as a consultant.

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‘When the show took off and it moved to London and it was clear it was going to keep running, I was asked to join them and I’m still here.’

He admits the show has taken over his life, but adds: ‘The truth is, when we started the total plan was four weeks in Dublin, nothing beyond that.

‘In those days, where we were in terms of Ireland and our outlook on the world we tended to be quite insular about the possibility of an Irish dance show going off around the world.

‘There was an in-built assumption that nobody would want to see it.’

To mark the anniversary, they’ve reworked the show and brought in lots of fresh blood. This time out we’ve got a very young company.

So we recast and got a lot of new fresh-legged dancers in.

‘We decided we wanted to take it as if it was a new start to mark the 21st anniversary.

‘A lot of the cast weren’t even born when Riverdance started.

‘Just for the fun of it, I sent an email out to the cast, asking them to send us pictures of them in 1995, and one girl sent in a scan from her mother’s tummy!’