Friday 17 January 2020

Can't buy me love? RTE spends €3k to wine and dine Valentine's guests

James Hennessy proposed to Siobhan Hiney on the show
James Hennessy proposed to Siobhan Hiney on the show

Sean O'Grady

Cash-strapped RTE forked out more than €3,000 on supplying the guests and audience for The Late Late Show Valentine's specials for 2018 and 2017, the Herald can reveal.

The station spent a fairly modest €127 for drinks for on-stage guests for the 2018 show, while €597 was spent supplying the audience with drinks, which included water, wine, soft drinks and spirits.

In addition, guests were also treated to some finger food backstage, which came to €187 - making a total of €911 to make sure the guests and the audience were suitably fed and hydrated for the two-hour show.

RTE cut its costs on the show in 2018, as more than double had been spent on food and drink the previous year.

It spent €170 on beverages for the guests to enjoy in the green room, while a massive €1,035 was spent supplying the audience with drinks for the show.

The 2017 audience was also supplied with food, which came to a bill of €714 to feed 200 people.

An RTE spokesperson noted the increased audience cost was due to the crowd being involved in that year's opening performance.

Meanwhile, the food bill for the green room came to €220, totalling €2,139 spent on refreshments for the 2017 show and a combined bill of €3,050 for the 2017 and 2018 Valentine's specials.

Always a ratings winner, the 2018 episode drew an audience of 520,100, a slight dip from last year's show when 568,400 viewers tuned in.

The episode featured several memorable moments, most notably when a couple got engaged live on air. James Hennessy (28) proposed to his partner Siobhan Hiney (23) during a fake game of Mr and Mrs, getting down on one knee before a visibly shocked Siobhan finally said "yes".

The station received a total of 13 notes of negative feedback from the public, 10 emails and three phone calls, while no formal complaints to RTE were made in relation to the show.

However, the broadcaster noted it also received many compliments from the public in relation to the episode.

The show appeared to be tamer than the 2017 edition, which received 176 calls and 120 emails offering RTE "negative feedback" on the raunchy production, which featured appearances by Eurovision star Linda Martin and comedian Al Porter.

The Valentine's Special is often one of the most-watched episodes of the chat show in any given year, often only beaten by the Toy Show, which usually draws more than one million viewers annually during the festive period.


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