Wednesday 14 November 2018

Pat Kenny: I might not have left RTE for Newstalk if 'The Frontline' wasn't axed

Pat Kenny filming for Pat Kenny in the Round
Pat Kenny filming for Pat Kenny in the Round
Pat Kenny Newsdesk Newsdesk

Broadcaster Pat Kenny might not have quit RTE for Newstalk if 'The Frontline' was still being aired.

In an interview with this week's 'RTE Guide', the Newstalk presenter said he often wonders what would have happened if his current affairs programme was still being broadcast.

Kathy Kenny and Pat Kenny at the opening night of Jersey Boys at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre,Dublin
Kathy Kenny and Pat Kenny at the opening night of Jersey Boys at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre,Dublin
Pat and Kathy Kenny
Pat Kenny and wife Kathy Kenny at the Irish premiere screening of Liam Neeson's new film Run All Night at Cineworld, Dublin. Picture: Brian McEvoy
Pat Kenny with wife Kathy Kenny and daughter Nicole at the opening night of Warhorse at The Bord Gais Energy Theatre Pic:Brian McEvoy No Repro fee for one use

"There are things that happened that led to my decision [to leave]. I often wonder if I had been approached by Newstalk and 'The Frontline' was still going, would I have jumped? The answer is 'Maybe I wouldn't', because I really enjoyed 'The Frontline' so much."

Read more here: Pat Kenny's 40-year TV show evolution 

'The Frontline' - an audience participation programme fronted by Kenny - replaced the long running 'Questions & Answers' series presented by John Bowman in 2009. RTE axed the programme in December 2012 and subsumed the audience interaction element into 'Prime Time' with Pat Kenny joining Miriam O'Callaghan and Claire Byrne. Before it was axed from the schedules, the programme enjoyed high ratings - regularly attracting 340,000 viewers - and brought us the famous presidential debate in 2011.

"When RTE decided to subsume 'The Frontline' in 'Prime Time', that clearly was a mistake they have since abandoned, as Claire [Byrne] is now doing a Monday night show, separate from 'Prime Time' on Tuesday and Thursday. So it's good to know that RTE can acknowledge that it made a mistake," he said.

Read more here: Audience tickets for Pat Kenny's new UTV Ireland show now available 

Pat will be back on the small screen shortly with 'Pat Kenny in the Round' for 'UTV Ireland'.

Pat Kenny
Pat Kenny

Guests for the series include Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and singer Lulu.

"It is not 'The Frontline' and it is not a mini 'Late Late Show'," the father-of-two told the 'RTE Guide.

He also rejected the suggestion that the new series has been driven by a desire to prove himself again.

"Absolutely not. I wanted to do some telly and while it had been indicated to me by RTE that I might do TV on RTE again, there would have to be 'a cleansing period' following the, if you like, 'scandal' of my leaving. I didn't leave in a fit of pique and the Director General, Noel Curran, told me that I owed the organisation nothing.

Read more here: Pat Kenny kicks off UTV's first day with exclusive Hozier interview in celebration of Ireland's future

"But the corporation was wounded by my departure and a little time has to elapse before the wound heals. I knew that could be some time and I wanted to do some telly again. So when the offer from UTV Ireland, I thought, 'why not?'

Speaking about his retirement, the presenter said it is not a "financial imperative" for him.

He told the media in 2013 - before his move to Newstalk - that he couldn't afford to retire due to bad investments.

"My accountant and financial adviser was Derek Quinlan and as a lot of people know, a lot of things invested in during that time didn't turn out the way people hoped they would.

"I don't blame Derek for that, because you go in with your eyes open but things that should have been blue chip didn't turn out that way. It's not that I couldn't have retired; I could, but I would like to be more settled and not looking over my shoulder at the next bill. So [retirement] was not a financial imperative," he explained.

The broadcaster also paid tribute to his wife of 23 years and said she was his "rock" when he decided to make the move from RTE to Newstalk.

Read more here: Pat Kenny unfazed by RTE's 'Frontline' replacement 

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