Saturday 25 March 2017

Presenting Princess Charlotte of Montrose

Her late dad may have been king of the airwaves, but 2fm presenter Lottie Ryan is now taking her place among the next generation of showbiz royalty, says Andrea Smith

Lottie Ryan
Lottie Ryan
Lottie Ryan, centre left, with, from far left, her sister Bonnie, grandmother Noreen Brennan, mother Morah and sister Babs.
Lottie with her father Gerry Ryan in 2010
Andrea Smith

Andrea Smith

Radio presenter Lottie Ryan was live on air recently when the name of William and Kate's new arrival was announced, and she got an extra kick out of telling listeners that the royal baby was to be called Charlotte Elizabeth Diana.

"My name is Charlotte Elizabeth Victoria," she smiles. "My mum got a good laugh out of the name as well, as she got there twenty-nine years earlier. I was always called Lottie though and was only ever Charlotte if I was in trouble."

As we speak, Lottie is dressed casually in jeans, a grey jumper and minimal make up. Due to a miscommunication, she didn't realise her photo was due to be taken at the same time as the interview, so our photographer has been dispatched. "I wouldn't have minded," she protests. "I would have done the photo today."

That's a refreshing attitude, but does she not feel the constant pressure of having to look good in public? "I think it's important not to care too much about it, and to be happy with yourself ," she says. "It's not good for your head to give something like that too much energy."

Mind you, even without the make up and fancy clothes, Lottie, 29, is a stunner, with perfect skin, dark, glossy hair, gleaming white teeth, and a fabulous figure honed by years of dancing. She bears a strong resemblance to her late dad, Gerry Ryan, and has followed in his broadcasting footsteps, but there the resemblance ends. Where Gerry was notorious for speaking his mind and revealing intimate details about their family life at the drop of a hat, Lottie has perfected the art of being politely smiley and gracious, while revealing relatively little about herself.

Her reticence is understandable. As with every child of a successful parent, it must be trying fending off questions about relatives when you are ostensibly being interviewed about your own career. In Lottie's case, the interest is hugely exacerbated because she's the daughter of an extremely popular, divisive and much-missed figure who had cocaine use implicated in his tragic death at 53, so one can imagine that interviews must be a potential minefield for poor Lottie at times.

The 29-year-old presenter has also had to deal with the presumption from particular quarters that nepotism got her the job in RTE, but she has been quietly working away, honing her craft and winning over a younger fan base who only know her in her own right. Earlier in her career, Lottie told me she would be judged more harshly than anyone else if she failed at what she was claiming to be able to do.

"A lot of people thought I only got the job because of my dad," she says, "but in this industry, you would be foolish to give anybody a job if they didn't have the talent. This is what I studied and what I'm good at, and I've always been confident in what I do. I got my work ethic from Dad, and he taught me how important it was to do something that you love."

Lottie grew up in Clontarf, and has four younger siblings, Rex, Bonnie, Elliott and Babette. She says that she's a free spirit and confident in herself, like her mum Morah, an artist and illustrator who graduated from NCAD. "My mum is happy in everything she does too," she says, describing Morah as "strong, independent and beautiful." "I think I'm a good mix of both of my parents."

She grew up in an all-singing, all-dancing household, which is unsurprising as Lottie's grandmother was a Bourke, of the well-known theatrical family. It looks like most of the Ryan children have bitten the bug in one way or another. Rex, 25, is successfully pursuing an acting career, and is poised to take the one-man show, Pilgrim, to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this summer. Bonnie, 22, is making a name for herself as a singer-songwriter, and Babette, 15, has been training with Billie Barry for years and is signed to the commercial division of Morgan - The Agency.

"We have one academic in the family as Elliott, 19, is in his first year of commerce at college" says Lottie. "Mind you, he's very artistic, like Mum. I thought it was normal that we were constantly recording things, or putting on plays and dances when we were growing up, but my friends soon let me know that there was something a little quirky about our house."

Growing up, Lottie planned to become a professional dancer and trained five or six days weekly, but her plan was derailed when she injured her hip. However, she still teaches part-time at the Young Performers Academy. She's glad that she ultimately chose to go to college to study media and journalism, as it taught her that there were other things going on in the world besides dancing. Once she had her degree under her belt, she moved to New York for six months, aged 22, and interned at TV channel CBS on the first season of The Good Wife, starring Julianna Margulies and Chris Noth, aka Sex and The City's Mr Big.

"I did anything I was told, from making tea or sandwiches to lugging around lights and holding streets closed," she recalls. "We worked 16-hour shifts as the series had huge deadlines and expectations, but that's normal for the industry there. They're so driven and they eat, live and breathe what they're doing. We're quite lucky over here that we can actually work and still have lives. I loved New York, but I was homesick and missed my family."

Once she returned, Lottie auditioned for, and won, the entertainment slot on The Daily Show on RTE One with Claire Byrne and Daithi O Se, and began contributing to The Colm Hayes Show. Her role at 2fm grew from that, and she has now earned her own weekend show, The Early, Early Breakfast Show, which airs from 6 -7 am. It's a difficult slot as most people aren't up that early at weekends, but she has been building it up over the past year and perfecting the skill of fronting her own show. She was quietly thrilled when the recent Joint National Listenership Research (JNLR) results showed that her listenership was up to 5,000, which is a 25 per cent increase on the previous quarter. Her show covers entertainment updates as well as music, gig, theatre and movie news, and she has a bubbly, easy manner and infectious enthusiasm that is easy on the ear. 2fm has gone through a difficult few years, but after the success of the recent JNLRs, where all the shows made gains, the atmosphere is great at the station, she says.

"Figures aren't the be-all and end-all for me at the moment," she admits. "They don't rule how my show goes, but I'm sure one day they will be more important. That isn't to say I didn't celebrate when the numbers went up, but I try not to keep it too much to the forefront of my mind. Everyone wants to move up in the schedule, and of course you want more air time, but right now, this is the perfect place for me. There is plenty of time for progression, and things will happen when they are meant to happen."

During the week, Lottie is part of the 2fm entertainment team, which broadcasts showbiz news every hour across the entire schedule, and updates the websites. As a result, she sometimes works in her dad's old studio, which must be a mixture of poignant and comforting. "It has been five years now since he passed, and I think it will always feel like it happened yesterday," she says. "As time goes by, you learn to celebrate his life, and I'm very proud of what he achieved. He is still very much a part of everything we do in my family."

Lottie lives with long-term boyfriend, Fabio Aprile, whom she has been with for a decade, but is reluctant to be drawn on the subject, apart from saying that she is 'very happy.' "The thing is that so few of my cards are left and so little is left personal to me, that I like to keep my relationship under lock and key," she told me previously. While she goes to a certain amount of events, she has to rise at 4.30 am at weekends and has morphed into the morning person she never realised lay within her.

"I have no social life at weekends - that completely goes down the toilet," she laughs. "It's such a dream come true to have my own show though, and I'm delighted with it. It has grown a lot and has definitely found its feet at this stage. If I could freeze time right now, I would, because everything is perfect and I'm so happy."

Lottie Ryan presents The Early, Early Breakfast Show on 2fm, every Saturday and Sunday from 6-7 am.

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