Nerves give way to promise for Ray's RTE return
Surprisingly, for such an experienced broadcaster, Ray D'Arcy sounded a little nervous at the start of his debut Radio 1 show (they brought over the name from Today FM, incidentally).
The Kildare man began with a rambling monologue, which included the cost of soup in the RTE canteen, how one cent pieces literally cost more to manufacture than they're worth, and his return to the state broadcaster. (Meeting Larry Gogan, he said, made it all okay; but sure, Larry's been doing that for the entire nation for decades.)
There were self-mocking jokes about remembering to say "good afternoon" and not "good morning", as he would have been used to, or hitting the wrong buttons in studio. He even messed up cueing the first song, Nina Simone's great cover of 'To Love Somebody'.
But it was all rather endearing, and D'Arcy relaxed into it quickly enough after that. He read out some "welcome back" texts and slags from the audience, then moved onto his first guest: Gaybo discussing that Stephen Fry interview which went viral (Gaybo amusingly described the video catching fire as being "a miracle".)
Gay was a clever choice to help ease Ray into it: he's a good old pro, articulate, used to the process and always gives good interviews. And the pair seemed comfortable in each other's presence, so much so that Ray wangled a half-promise out of Gaybo that he could have the legend's last interview (delivered from his death bed).
Then D'Arcy chatted to Paul Howard, creator of the 'Ross O'Carroll Kelly' phenomenon (one million books sold to date, the stage adaptation re-running and a TV show potentially in the works - the man is a virtual cottage industry).
First interviewed by Ray 19 years ago - about a 'Sunday Tribune' article he'd written on 'Star Wars' - Howard was another good choice: funny and self-deprecating. "My job is to sit at a computer for 10 hours," he dead-panned, "thinking like this moron!" And he admitted sometimes "seeing things as Ross would".
They also covered Howard's excellent '44 life lessons' article - although I still can't forgive him for comparing Elvis negatively to Roy Orbison.
The second half of 'The Ray D'Arcy Show' dipped a bit for me, particularly during the consumer affairs section: price comparisons and information on right of returns.
Conor Pope is a chatty and engaging fella, but personally I find this stuff pretty boring. In fairness, a lot of people feel differently.
The collective interview with three people who'd quit smoking, likewise, didn't overly excite me and felt over-long.
But the live 10-piece acapella group Straight No Chaser were excellent. And newsreader Eileen Dunne's droll "Welcome back, honey" to D'Arcy made me laugh.
It's hard to know, obviously, where the show will go in the next six or 12 months, but this showed promise.
Not bad at all from the new (old) boy.