Monday 11 December 2017

Michael O'Doherty: Dispute over Pat Kenny's show isn't about sexism - he's just the bigger star

Colette Fitzpatrick and Pat Kenny
Colette Fitzpatrick and Pat Kenny
Michael O'Doherty

Michael O'Doherty

Social media had something new last week against which to channel its collective outrage, namely the shameful lack of respect shown to Colette Fitzpatrick in the naming of the new TV3 show she co-presents with Pat Kenny.

Because in calling it Pat Kenny Tonight, rather than The Pat Kenny and Colette Fitzpatrick Show, The Pat and Colette Show, or indeed Patette Tonight, TV bosses have once against displayed their ingrained sexism, and put women's rights back 100 years.

Such tripe would, on another day, hardly be worthy of mention, and be dismissed as the now sadly inevitable moaning of people with nothing better to do than spend their evenings on Twitter.

There are many examples of both RTE and TV3 giving equal, or indeed superior billing, to female presenters when it is appropriate.

Read more: Amanda Brunker on Pat Kenny Tonight sexism row: 'Colette Fitzpatrick doesn't make tea for the show, she co-presents it'

When Grainne Seoige and Joe O'Shea co-presented RTE's flagship daytime show, Seoige and O'Shea, I don't recall anyone standing up for Joe when he was second in the title, even though alphabetically he should have been first.

The reason for it being called Pat Kenny Tonight is perfectly simple - Pat is one of the biggest names on Irish TV in the last 40 years, getting him to work for TV3 has been a huge coup for the station. It's natural that they should try and have his many fans tune in by naming the show after him.

Imagine my surprise to find that one of those taking up the argument last week was none other than Amanda Brunker, who marked her outrage with the sarcastic quip that "No, Colette doesn't make the tea for the show, she co-presents it with Pat. Not that you could tell from the title".

Read more: Five talking points from Pat Kenny Tonight - potatoes to lasers and more sexism claims

Her words led me to recall a time seven years ago when VIP magazine did a feature on the New York wedding of a well-known Irish celebrity.

The female star's name was splashed in huge type on the cover, relegating her husband to tiny print below. I don't remember getting any complaints.

As with all other media, VIP was simply recognising the fact that the bigger star is always given a bigger billing - something I would have been sure the celebrity in question understood.

But perhaps it's time I saw the error of my ways and offered a belated apology for this slight - because, seven years on, Amanda seems to have changed her view on equal billings.


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