Reaction to the sight of Barry's bare bottom was mixed. The owner of the exposed buttocks covered his face in mock embarrassment. Some present giggled nervously. Others laughed at the sheer cheek of it.

Barry's naked bum, revealed as he participated in a nightclub act in Ibiza, was the subject of much ribald conversation, but this wasn't the reason for the gathering at Tyne Tees Television in Newcastle. We were there to watch Red Hot In Ibiza in which Barry Robson joins four other of the North-East's hottest dancers - Charlie White, Satya Darbar, Shelley Lamb and Cheryl Flowers - to dance in front of a 3,000-strong audience in a top nightspot in Ibiza.

The getting-quite-famous five were chosen from 200 wannabe dancers in auditions throughout the region in a TV dance competition that proved to be Popstars with legs. What started out as a laugh for most of them developed into something more serious as the eliminating heats brought them ever closer to the final.

They all agree that going to Ibiza, spending a week in the sun rehearsing the strenuous routine and then the buzz of performing in front of a big crowd was an unforgettable experience. Cheryl, from Washington, liked it so much that she's returned to the island and is dancing regularly in El Devino. This is the club where they performed the routine staged by American choreographer JP, one of the Red Hot Dance judges.

He knew it would be tough for contestants but perhaps didn't guess how gruelling the judging was going to be, especially as the four-strong panel weren't always in tune as they argued over whether looks or ability were the best qualifications for the job. "We were looking for more than just good dancers," explains JP. "It was down to personalities, how well everyone was going to get along together and how they looked together." The judges seem to have got it right. There was much hugging and kissing at the preview reunion of the five, producer Derek Proud and the Red Hot Dance team. After the screening Barry, who comes from Sunderland, says: "It was like watching our holiday film."

"It's hard keeping in touch because we come from different areas and have our own different jobs. Mostly it's been through text messages," adds Shelley, from South Shields.

The run-up to the performance was not without problems - such as Barry's pink T-shirt, a six foot python called Gomez, a stage that was too small and, of course, Barry's bum.

One thing's for certain, all five are serious about dance and have worked hard to earn their place in the show. Barry's been dancing at the Tuxedo Princess, Newcastle's floating nightclub, for two-and-a-half years after taking a performing arts course in drama and music.

Shelley was on the same course although they didn't realise that connection until they met in the semi-finals. She missed out of going to performing arts college in London because she couldn't get a grant, so went to college instead.

"At the back of my mind there was a feeling that something might come along. When Red Hot Dance happened, I thought, 'this is my opportunity'," she says.

For Satya, who comes from Middlesbrough, the idea of going to Ibiza was the initial attraction. She dragged along boyfriend Charlie after seeing the competition advertised in the club where they are podium dancers. "He's a good dancer and I said, 'get yourself down and do it', it'll be a laugh." The couple weren't paired off on stage with Shelley partnering Charlie and Barry working with Satya. "The only part we worked together was a little duet and we had an argument," recalls Satya. "We found out by the end of the week that we couldn't work together."

Even before Red Hot In Ibiza is screened next week, the five have been enjoying their new-found celebrity. As JP says: "In the short term, they'll have a boost to their careers. Doing a TV series always helps. They'll get more work as more and more people see what they are doing. That's a natural side effect from performing on TV."

Shelley has already signed up to play Dandini in pantomime at the Customs House in South Shields. For Satya and Charlie, the future will probably mean a move to London to follow up offers from dance agencies and to attend dance school. Barry, too, has had calls from nightclubs in the region with offers of work.

With the series also being shown in the Yorkshire and Anglia regions, they're going to be seen by an awful lot of people. "You don't realise how much people are watching the show," he says. "They ring you up and say, 'we saw you dance and want you to come and dance for us'. In the street you get mobbed. I went out and got mobbed in the Bigg Market. It's like being a mini-celebrity."

Then the others remind him that after Tuesday night, his bum's going to be famous too.

* Red Hot In Ibiza is on Tyne Tees Television on Tuesday at 10.50pm.

Published: 03/08/2001