Page last updated at 11:43 GMT, Wednesday, 22 April 2009 12:43 UK

Christine hosts new dancing show

Christine Bleakley with Phyllis McCartney and Alan Clark
Christine Bleakley with Phyllis McCartney and Alan Clark as they practise their ballroom dancing

A nostalgic new TV series which takes us back to the golden era of Ulster's dancehalls begins tonight on BBC One.

Presented by Strictly Come Dancing star Christine Bleakley, Dancehall Sweethearts will explore the phenomenon dancing had on the province.

Beginning in the 1940s the series explores the huge impact ballroom dancing had on so many lives.

When, despite years of hardship, young people sought out entertainment and romance in the dancehalls.

Dancehall Sweethearts will relive those magical times by exploring stories from the dancehalls in Northern Ireland during the war years of the 40's through the fabulous 50's and the swinging 60's.

In one of the three-part-series we meet Phyllis and David McCartney. They became the queen and king of the dance floor winning six All Ireland Ballroom Championships and seven Ulster Shield Championships between 1963 and 1970.

Their romance which started as a dance partnership ended up in a successful marriage, the highlight being featured in 'Come Dancing' when it was broadcast live from the Plaza in Belfast in 1963.

Sue McGivern
Still dancing today, Sue McGivern began her dancing life during the 1940's in the famous Floral Hall on the Cave Hill

The Floral Hall, on the Cave Hill, is also a focus in the series. The art-deco building which opened in May 1936 quickly became popular as a ballroom and entertainment centre. The programme looks at the courtships and marriages which were born there and the glamour that this venue added for Belfast's dancers.

Dermot Lavery, series producer said: "We met some absolutely remarkable people while making these programmes, most of whom, although of advanced years, are still dancing to this day.

"For someone like me - born of the disco generation - to hear their stories and memories of that golden era of the Dancehall left me with a longing that perhaps I might just have been born too late!"

Dancehall Sweethearts will be shown on BBC One, at 2250 BST on Wednesday 22 April.

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