Sunday 1 February 2015

I am writing my story – but it's fiction, not a 'kiss and tell'

Anne Doyle gave her final broadcast on Christmas night.
Anne Doyle

'Goodnight and take care," Anne Doyle told viewers each time she ended a news bulletin on RTÉ. Over decades it became her catchphrase, and she in turn heard it back from people she met the length and breadth of Ireland.

But Anne says it was completely unplanned and spontaneous.

"I can't remember the first time I told viewers to 'take care'," she says.

"It was probably an accident, but it somehow connected with the audience at home.

"I grew to understand that it's a very personal thing reading the news to people: personal to them, and personal to me. So much so, I sometimes felt during my career closer to the public than my fellow colleagues in RTÉ. The 'take care' was all part of that," she said.

Fourteen months have passed since the Wexford woman disappeared off our screens after she took early retirement from the national broadcaster.

The closest we have seen of Anne since was on a postage stamp, one of a series from An Post celebrating RTÉ's TV50.

But in the spring of 2013, she remains as razor sharp and funny beneath her trademark blonde bob.

"I've just come back from Jamaica and in the last two years have been doing a lot of travelling. The freedom of not working is that on a miserable rainy day in Ireland, you can ring a friend and say 'what about the Canaries?', and be off into the sunshine without worrying about changing shifts, or whether you'll be back in time for work next week."

Another thing Anne doesn't have to worry about is the news. She says she rarely catches the bulletins she once hosted on TV .

"It doesn't matter now whereas before there was always a terror that you had to keep up with everything. Now I really don't care. If I'm on a beach, I'll be reading a thriller and enjoying not having to be up on everything because I'm Anne Doyle off the news," she said.

Much of this new life has been spent in the company of her long-term partner, restaurateur Dan McGrattan, but despite describing herself as "a hopeless romantic", she says marriage is not on the agenda in the years ahead for her and Dan.

"I'm a great believer in leaving things alone if they are fine. What's that old adage? If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

"In life, happiness is not guaranteed. There's a modern view that we should be happy all the time, but actually life is not like that.

But while Anne prefers to keep the affairs of the heart a mystery, she is quite frank when it comes to discussing her reasons for leaving Montrose. In 2010, it seemed inconceivable that RTÉ's news anchor could retire after word leaked to the press that she was seeking early retirement.

"I found it hard to understand the fuss," said Anne, who joined RTÉ as a newsreader in 1978, aged 26.

"It's not as if I was a garda, a doctor or a nurse. If you collapse clutching your chest, it's not Anne Doyle you'll be looking for."

Irish Independent

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