Sunday 15 September 2019

Anchorman Aengus to quit RTE newsroom after 30 years

Departing RTE newsreader Aengus Mac Grianna at the Co Meath alpaca farm he shares with husband Terry Gill
Departing RTE newsreader Aengus Mac Grianna at the Co Meath alpaca farm he shares with husband Terry Gill
Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

Ireland's favourite anchorman, whose famous on-screen personal grooming session earned him worldwide fame, is to leave RTE.

Aengus Mac Grianna, who has brought us some of the defining news stories of the past 30 years, is the most high-profile name yet to take the voluntary redundancy package offered by Montrose bosses which reached its deadline last Friday.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Mr Mac Grianna said his departure was in no way linked to the announcement of two new co-presenters who will take over from Sharon Ni Bheolain and Bryan Dobson on the Six One bulletin.

"I told management over six months ago of my decision so this was decided long before any of the changes. I've had 30 wonderful years at RTE but it is time for a change," he said.

And, although he will no longer be in the spotlight, Mr Mac Grianna is adamant he is not yet ready to retire to the quiet life of the alpaca farm he shares with husband Terry Gill in Co Meath.

"It's a bit like that book The Alchemist. I re-read it again recently and I am following my personal legend, as the book would say. I haven't fully mapped out where I want to go but I know that I'll eventually get wherever that is meant to be.

"My ultimate dream is to keep learning and to explore and discover new things. I am open to the idea of going back to university and I will keep all my options open - from architecture to archaeology."

Mr Mac Grianna started his newsroom career as a sub-editor and then moved into reporting, before working his way up to become a full-time newscaster.

Although there have been many highlights over a long career noted, his most famous moment came when, while unaware the cameras were rolling, he was caught applying foundation to his forehead. As he proceeded to pick a piece of lint from his cuff, the slow, terrifying realisation dawned on him that his personal grooming was going out live to the nation.

Mr Mac Grianna gasped in horror, before the cameras were abruptly cut.

Afterwards, the Dubliner took it in good spirits, saying: "I saw the fun in it. You have to laugh at yourself as well, I think that's important."

The video went on to become a viral hit, racking up over half-a-million views and even featuring on the US show Jimmy Kimmel Live! in a segment entitled ''excellence in reporting''. It also earned him the moniker 'Blooper King'.

eBay also used the clip, as part of an ad for its sale season. Mr Mac Grianna can be seen fixing his tie as the narrator asks: "You thought you got a prime deal but did you check eBay?" at which point Aengus shouts: "What?"

More than 200 staff are to leave RTE within the coming months as part of a bid to reduce the broadcaster's workforce. The number leaving is significantly less than the 350 hoped for by station bosses.

Mr Mac Grianna will continue to deliver the news on RTE until early next year.

Sunday Independent

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