Development & Alumni Relations Office 


18 December 2017

Queen’s medical graduate and Belfast City Hospital A&E doctor, Ciara Mackey, became Michael McIntyre’s ‘Unexpected Star of the Show’ on Saturday night, singing in front of a live Theatre Royal Drury Lane audience, BBC TV cameras and millions of television viewers.

Studying, living and working in Belfast for the last nine years but originally from Dublin, Ciara thought she was checking into The Grand Hotel for a romantic weekend with boyfriend Simon Black – a video producer from Newry – and was totally unaware that she was actually being ‘set up’ to star in the closing feature of the Saturday night BAFTA-winning Michael McIntyre’s Big Show.

Ciara, who covered the cost of her medical degree by performing in local pubs before graduating from Queen’s in 2013 with a MB BCh BAO, delivered a show-stopping rendition of the Les Miserables classic, On My Own, in front of the 2,500 strong theatre audience and an estimated 6 million primetime TV viewers.

Others appearing on the hugely popular show included Miranda Hart, boy band One Direction singer Niall Horan and former 8 Out of 10 Cats team captain, the comedian Jason Manford. The show also features a highly popular segment in which a member of the public innocently becomes the 'Unexpected Star of the Show' and is asked to perform the closing solo number.

No stranger to singing in public, Ciara played the role of Lady of the Lake in Spamalot in Belfast’s Grand Opera House earlier this year and has performed with groups such as the Ulster Operatic Company.

Ciara and Simon could be seen checking in to the fictitious Grand Hotel, navigating several dodgy 'guests' in the improvised lobby before being taken up to their room where they were assured that the view would make up for its size, as the elaborate prank unfolded. Boyfriend Simon then pulled back the curtain, to reveal the waiting audience and host Michael McIntyre.

Collapsing to her knees in shock in front of the cheering auditorium, Ciara remained speechless before finally managing to utter: "You're Michael McIntyre!"

In a BBC web exclusive after the show, Ciara said: “No-one at work is going to believe what has just happened!

“I thought it was really like the hotel in Home Alone II. The woman in front was bizarre. I thought the room was quite nice; it was small but I thought it was fine.”

“I did not understand what was happening when that curtain was pulled back. I am still trying to get my head around that – I am going to replay that moment again and again.”

“I love performing on stage. I suppose it’s just an escape; I’ve a pretty stressful job, and it’s something completely different and you can just let it all out.

“Tonight I have definitely lived one of my dreams. I’ve ticked something off the bucket list I never thought I would be ticking off.”   

Despite the shock, and the lack of time to rehearse for her big solo number, Ciara's voice wowed fans on social media, including Queen’s honorary graduate Eamonn Holmes, who tweeted: "Wasn't Dr Ciara amazing on Michael McIntyre's Show tonight as The Unexpected Star! Belfast at its best."

If you missed Ciara’s performance you can catch up via the BBC iPlayer (in the UK) up until 13 January 2018.

General inquiries to Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Queen’s University Development and Alumni Relations Office, telephone: +44 (0)28 9097 5321.

Photo credit: BBC (headline and main) and Belfast Telegraph (inset)

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