Saturday 25 October 2014

One of the lads

She's one of the most controversial women on Irish TV, but radio is different, as Jennifer Maguire has discovered as co-host of 2FM's new breakfast show. Keeping up with the immediacy of it is 'knackering', she tells Sarah Caden, as she explains how she'd never heard of 'Morning Ireland' until recently, how her parents wish she could be more like Kathryn Thomas, and how, despite being a 'cranky bitch', her summer wedding is still on.

Jennifer Maguire. Picture: Barry McCall for LIFE magazine
Jennifer will be getting married later this summer: Vintage dress, Lilli Diamond, The Goddess Room. Photo: Barry McCall.
Jennifer in a dress from Umit Kutluk Haute Couture and shoes from River Island

'If my dad likes an episode of Republic of Telly, then I know we've done something wrong," says Jennifer Maguire with a laugh. She then tells a story about how her very proud parents had her aunt around one evening, and delightedly switched on the television for a family appreciation of their Jennifer.

"They were, like, 'Oh, Jen's on the telly, put it on,' and the minute it came on, I was, like, 'How big is your cock?' or something. They were mortified.

"So I tell them," Jennifer continues, "'Don't put it on for your friends or your older sister.' Sometimes, I don't even tell them when it's on."

While we talk, Jennifer is approached by exactly the kind of people to whom RTE Two's Republic of Telly makes complete sense and isn't remotely mortifying.

A brother and sister, in their mid-teens, approach, and the boy asks if Jennifer will pose for a picture with the girl.

Jennifer feigns indignation that he doesn't want a picture, too, but he reassures her that it's just that he doesn't like photos and it's not her.

"You're cool," he reassures Jennifer's mock-offence. "Really," he says to his sister, "don't I think she's cool?" When Jennifer sits down again, she says, "Well, that's them. That's the Republic of Telly fan."

She says that the age bracket of her fan base has broadened a bit lately, thanks to the success of her Eighties-parents sketch with Bernard O'Shea on Republic of Telly, and the online hit that was the houseproud woman threatening her with a knife on her candid-camera series, The Fear. But, fundamentally, Jennifer Maguire has young fans. She's not for your granny or even, possibly, your mammy, but she's a perfect fit for a generation that doesn't bat an eye at a woman telling knob jokes on the telly, or calling someone a prick, or being ballsy.


Her mammy, obviously, would rather she did less of all of the above, but the ability to not only get away with this, but build a growing career on it, is Jennifer Maguire's unique achievement in Irish broadcasting.

She's the anti-lovely girl, perhaps, and definitely the only female RTE presenter I've ever met who has cursed, adjectivally, in an interview.

We're talking over coffee in the RTE canteen, after Jennifer has finished the day's Breakfast Republic on 2FM. She's having the adrenaline comedown that is part of getting up before dawn, revving yourself up at 7am to perform for two hours, and then switching that off again, before some people have even started work.

She's keeping herself lively with coffee, and then she's due over in the RTE television building, where she'll work on Republic of Telly for the rest of the day.

"Lau," she says of her English-Italian fiance, whom she will marry in July, "says that people don't really know the real me. Because I literally laugh all day at work, and then I come home and I'm a cranky bitch."

"Radio is so different to telly because you're so much more exposed," Jennifer says. "In telly, you can't really tell the reaction of the audience immediately, but, in radio, you do. Like, a lot of our material is the stuff that comes in on emails and Twitter, and texts, and some of it is so hilarious. You say something, and the instant reaction is amazing.

"You become so much more aware, too," she says. "You're reading papers every day – well, maybe more looking online, and at websites and stuff, because it's quicker than a paper – and you're sussing out what's going on, and what people are talking about. I'm probably more aware of the world, and that's knackering in itself.

"Keith asked me had I ever heard of Morning Ireland," she says, laughing at herself, "and I was, like, 'No.' I mean, I lived in the UK for years, and I never listened to it, or I wasn't up that early. That was my excuse. I fucking know what it is now, though, I tell you.

Sunday Indo Life Magazine

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