Thursday 21 November 2019

Alan Hughes stays positive for future at Virgin Media as Ireland AM gets ‘vote of confidence’

Alan Hughes with Jenny Dixon, Michele McGrath, and Jake Carter, stars of the Cheerios Panto Cinderella at the new Pantodome at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham this December. PIC: Leon Farrell
Alan Hughes with Jenny Dixon, Michele McGrath, and Jake Carter, stars of the Cheerios Panto Cinderella at the new Pantodome at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham this December. PIC: Leon Farrell
Sinead Desmond and Alan Hughes, Mark Cagney and Anna Daly (right)
Melanie Finn

Melanie Finn

TV presenter Alan Hughes says he remains positive about the future of Virgin Media, despite news of looming job cuts.

Up to 65 positions may be lost in the Ballymount-based organisation as part of a company restructuring.

The company recently stated it had entered a 30-day consultation period with employees to ensure revenue growth.

However, Ireland AM presenter Hughes said the early-morning breakfast programme remains strong and he’s hoping they draft in a new presenter to replace Mark Cagney, who retired last July.

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Alan Hughes
Alan Hughes

“My perspective on it is that I have a contract until Christmas of 2020,” he said.

“So whatever has happened, I have a contract until Christmas 2020.

“I’m just looking forward to getting up and running and looking forward to New Year and hopefully getting a male anchor on the show.”

The long-time broadcaster added he didn’t know why the decision was made to bring entertainment programme Xpose to an end but he’s just concentrating on his own remit.

“I don’t know why Xpose went but I think they’ve given a vote of confidence to Ireland AM with the [extension to] four hours,” he said.

“So that was the thing – it’s sort of like, ‘You’re stuck with me for another year’.”

Michele McGrath and Jenny Dixon
Michele McGrath and Jenny Dixon
Michele McGrath will perform in the Cheerios panto

Yesterday saw Hughes and producer/songwriter Karl Broderick unveiling details of the new Cheerios pantomime, which will feature the story of Cinderella this year.

For the first time ever, the annual show will take place in a bespoke ‘panto dome’ at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham as the former Tivoli theatre production finds a new home.

“It’s the first time it’s even been done. No one has ever tried to do it before,” he said.

“It will be the tallest free-standing structure. It’s 39 metres high. It’s like a luxury pop-up theatre.”

He said it was a big decision to move it from its Liberties base but the bookings have been “amazing”.

“Our loyal fans are coming along with us and I think it’s a novelty factor as well. That’s why we chose to do Cinderella because it’s for the kids,” he added.

Running from December 5 to January 5, the show will see the return of panto regular Michele McGrath taking on the role of the Wicked Stepmother.

Singer Jake Carter will play the part of the dashing Prince Charming, with Rob Murphy as Buffy and Jenny Dixon making her pantomime debut as the Fairy Godmother.

The newly-married actress, who tied the knot with TD Tom Neville last summer, said she was “so excited” about the role.

“With Fair City, you’re on a conveyor belt of scenes and you kind of get into a rhythm but this is more a musical theatre genre with big costumes and big actions and the live audience as well,” she said.

“So I’m excited to experience that and delve into that world. It’s a little bit of excitement but also that thing of, ‘Do I know my lines yet?’ No, but we’ve still weeks to go.”

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