Monday 16 September 2019

RTE's Stephen Byrne: My snake likes to rattle around her cage while I sleep

Stephen Byrne (25), is a vlogger, TV and radio presenter, who currently works on 'Two Tube' on RTE2. He lives in Temple Bar in Dublin, with his best friend, Faye O'Rourke of the band Little Green Cars, and a North Carolina corn snake, Miss Hiss

Stephen Byrne, vlogger, TV and radio presenter. Photo: Tony Gavin.
Stephen Byrne, vlogger, TV and radio presenter. Photo: Tony Gavin.

Emily Hourican

Living in Temple Bar is good and bad. It's great fun, but the noise can be quite loud, and the temptation to follow everyone on a night out is always there. Usually I resist, because I get up about 7.30am. I live with my best friend, Faye. She's in a band called Little Green Cars, and is currently off on tour with Hozier across the United States. When she's here, sometimes I wake up and she's playing the piano, which is lovely, but then she turns it into a good morning song for me, which is quite mortifying.

I've never really been a breakfast person, but if I do have something, I will throw a few eggs together. If not, it's coffee, straight down the hatch. Over the summer, I was covering for Ryan Tubridy on the radio, so that meant getting straight out the door and into RTE for 8am. Now, I'm back to TV, so I get to leave a bit later. I get the bus into RTE and, once there, meet my co-host on Two Tube, Blathnaid Treacy, and we're straight into it - working out the plan for the day, what's going to be on the show, what interviews we have, what live-music recordings. Sometimes one of us will be going to London for the big junkets, the Hollywood films. Once we've worked out exactly what's going on, we go our separate ways and do what needs to be done.

Lunch is an unpredictable thing. Sometimes I'll bring food in with me. Or I'll pick up a burrito on my way through town. Some days I'll be in the canteen, or we'll order in from one of the different places around. Sometimes we don't get lunch, depending on how busy things are. We are both usually back here and in make-up by 4.30pm. Then we work out what we're going to wear, to make sure we're not clashing. We like the same colours, the same kinds of clothes and shoes, so we have to watch it. With Sinead Kennedy, it was even worse - multiple times, we realised that we were planning to wear the exact same things. As for who backs down when that happens - it's always me!

We get to the studio for 5pm and do a quick run-through of the show. Our first link is at 5.30pm - that's an introduction to the show - followed by longer pieces at 6pm and 6.30pm. We're on every half-an-hour from the studio for the two hours of the show, and in between it's the segments we recorded earlier. We do a good few rehearsals for each link and work out what we're going to say, but we also want to keep it fresh and off the cuff; if we rehearse too much, it gets stale and dreary.

Between the links, we can move and joke around. Blathnaid and I are best friends, so we just totally mess around all the time. It's great fun. We always say our favourite time is in studio; we've been running around different places all day, interviewing different people, so it's the moment when we regroup and have time together. Once we finish, we can buzz off, but we generally don't. We tend to sit around and chat for a good half an hour more. Then I head to the gym for about 7.20pm. I just do a quick 20 minutes every day, rather than stay in for an hour and get bored. I only do weights - legs one day, arms the next, and I play football on a Monday night.

After the gym, I go home, and depending on whether my boyfriend is there or not, we would either eat in or go and grab something. If we're eating in, I would cook - a Thai green curry, Indian curries, or steak-and-eggs twice a week - which is probably too much protein. I do think about what I eat. I wouldn't restrict myself too much on a night out, but I try and eat well. Living in Temple Bar means being surrounded by fast-food places, and it's way too easy to get into bad habits. I would tend to go out once or twice a week, but in less of a long-haul type of way these days. I've moved away from clubbing - it's always the same people, and I feel like I've done it. I'd rather go out for one or two drinks, even grab a coffee, and sit down with a few mates. I used to be able to go out for three or four days, and feel fine after one decent night's sleep, but now I can't, so I have to think far more about what I have to do the next day.

I used to work on 2fm at weekends; Weekend Breakfast meant starting at 6am. It was an amazing gig, but it's great now to have that little bit of freedom; to be able to go for a night out with friends and not have to be home by 11pm. At the moment, I would probably stay in bed until late in the morning, then I will try and get together everything I'll need for the week ahead - get organised, do the washing - and go out to my parents' house and see them for lunch. I don't actually see Faye that much during the week, because she is on a different schedule to me even when she is here, so weekends are our time to catch up.

During the week, I try to get to bed for about 11pm, and I succeed for about 2am. I can't, for some reason, seem to go any earlier. I trace that back to when I was 14 or 15. I got a TV in my room, and Roseanne was on Comedy Central at 2am, and every night I used to stay up and watch it. I got into a terrible habit of that, and now I find it very hard to break. When I first started making online videos, when I was in school, I'd shoot them, then edit them the same day, and I'd be up til 3 or 4am. I'm used to functioning on not much sleep, although it's probably not good for me.

As I fall asleep, I have to try and switch off. I'm the sort of person that would let all the things I have to do build up into one massive black cloud, so when I lie down, I need to review all the stuff in my head, isolate it out and calm it down. Faye and I have a pet snake - Miss Hiss, a North Carolina corn snake - who is in my room, and she likes to rattle around her cage while I sleep. I was very scared of snakes until we got her a few months ago. We went into the reptile store to have a look, and came out half-an-hour later with a snake. But we adore her, she's our baby.

'Two Tube' is on RTE2, Monday to Friday, from 5.30pm to 7pm

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