Bring back Gaybo: Tubridy's faux Law Library act turns off viewers
The RTE presenter fluffed his interview with David Norris making us yearn for days gone by, writes Jerome Reilly
Published 18/09/2011 | 05:00
With the deft touch of an 8lb sledgehammer, Ryan Tubridy set about his dissection of the sexual mores of David Norris.
But in the end, viewers were cringing for The Late Late Show presenter, rather than the prospective presidential candidate.
Norris was subjected to a cack-handed and maladroit inquisition. It was painful to watch.
When his good friend Ronan Keating came on the Late Late, Tubridy was slammed for his uber soft handling of his old buddy. Not a mention of the Boyzone star's philandering.
And Tubridy didn't exactly rip into Bertie Ahern. There was no deep penetration of the former Taoiseach's personal and financial life.
So before the new season started and mindful of the criticism, Tubridy promised a return to Late Late Show values as espoused by Gay Byrne -- longer, more in-depth and tougher interviews and greater audience participation.
Last night there was even a return to Gaybo-style "guess the value of the antiques" competition. It was like watching a live version of Reeling in the Years. But the trouble is a return to a Gay Byrne-style Late Late Show requires one vital ingredient -- Gay Byrne.
Tubridy fluffed his interview with Norris and missed a golden opportunity. In his determination to talk about sex and his efforts to get the senator to once again explain the difference between pedarasty and paedophilia, he was going over well-trodden ground.
Norris had some explaining to do to the Irish voters about the circumstances surrounding his letter to the Israeli authorities on behalf of his former lover and his decision to quit and now dramatically re-enter the race for the park.
Norris was more than willing to supply the answers but was foiled in the first part of the interview because of Tubridy's infuriating interruptions and faux Law Library posturing.
"I must put it to you..." and "It says HERE in your letter senator..." complete with lots of finger jabbing.
In the end Norris had to lay down the marker, pointing out with remarkable civility and good grace that no other politician is ever asked about sex in the same way he is.
After that we at last got to the substantive issues and Norris put in a bravura performance from then on.
"This would be the biggest comeback in Irish political history, I think people love a comeback," he said.
"The Irish people should be allowed the judgement. They may not want me but I think they should at least be allowed the choice," he added.
It was stirring stuff.
Norris is right. We do love a comeback.
The trouble is that after Tubridy's performance on Friday night there are as many viewers who want a comeback by Gay Byrne to The Late Late Show as those who want Mr Norris back in the presidential race.
Many many thousands.