I've no desire to front a big show again, says Pat Kenny as 'In the Round' kicks off
Broadcaster Pat Kenny has no desire to front a "Number One" show again.
Kenny returned to our small screens last night with new UTV Ireland chat show 'In the Round'.
While pleased to return to TV, Kenny said he has no intention of rivalling juggernaut programmes like 'The Late Late Show'.
"When you're on a 'Number One' show, it's a tyranny and a massive weight - I don't feel that weight now," Kenny told the Irish Independent. "That's a nice way to be."
Somewhat ironically, the first episode of 'In the Round' went head to head with RTÉ current affairs programme 'Claire Byrne Live', which took over 'The Frontline's former slot earlier this year.
But Kenny insisted there is "no bad blood" with RTÉ and no rivalry with Byrne.
"It's not as if this is World War III," Kenny said. "I left RTÉ with all my friendships intact. There was no bad blood.
"If I was to come back with something like 'The Frontline' ... it would've been odd. But they're two different kinds of programmes."
In terms of style and structure, 'Pat Kenny In the Round' shares many similarities with 'Piers Morgan's Life Stories', but, as broadcasters Kenny and Morgan couldn't be further apart.
While Morgan is brash and bombastic, Kenny is measured and methodical.
'In the Round' may lack a degree of imagination but Kenny's return to screen reminds us of his skill as a broadcaster. There was a formal familiarity as he talked to Tyrone Gaelic football manager Mickey Harte about sport, faith and the tragic death of his daughter Michaela.
The choice of Harte as first guest was of strategic importance; not only does the Tyrone manager resonate with both a southern Irish and Northern Irish audience but rival stations, such as RTÉ, have had limited access to him. Harte refused to speak to the national broadcaster for several years after they aired a sketch which he took offence to. RTÉ subsequently apologised.
'In the Round' veers away from "fluffy entertainment" - which was never Kenny's forte - and plays to his strengths. Whether the series will create as many "watercooler moments" as Kenny hoped for remains to be seen.