Monday 22 July 2019

REVIEW: My Big Idea for the Late Late Show? Cut the length of it in half

Ryan Tubridy
Ryan Tubridy
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

You know what’s wrong with the Late Late Show? It’s too long.

It’s probably always been too long, and I’m only realising this now. Maybe the patrician authority of Gaybo, and Pat Kenny’s (metaphorical) wild mood swings between current affairs brilliance and pop culture Partridge-isms, blinded me to this.

But it is. Tonight’s opening show of the new season went on for more than two hours – and that is too damn long.

It wasn’t a bad line-up, all told, but I must confess: by about the hour mark, I was flagging. My interest was wandering. I was getting kind of bored, and again, that’s not necessarily because of the material.

Blame age-related mental exhaustion, blame a reduced attention-span caused by the internet, blame whatever you want. The Late Late Show is too long. Over the course of those two hours-plus, it feels, to quote Bilbo Baggins, like butter spread too thinly over bread.

That’d be my Big Idea to producers, going – as they say in the corporate world – forward: never mind rejigging the format, changing the theme tune or even getting a new presenter. Just cut the length of the show by an hour.

Anyway. The thing itself, this opening programme: can you believe this is Ryan Tubridy’s seventh season at the helm? Pat was only there for ten. It still feels, in some odd and hard-to-define way, as if Tubridy is a newbie, a triallist, someone filling in for a bit while they sort out a permanent solution.

But he threw himself into tonight’s show, in fairness: hopping around, greeting people, having the crack, really buzzing, full of beans. He genuinely seemed to be having good fun.

We had micro-pigs, exotic pets, Elysha Brennan the new Rose of Tralee (a very impressive young woman; I liked her impassioned defence of the pageant, and feck the begrudgers). We had Marty Morrissey crashing a wedding, and sure, why not?

We had the Moscow State Circus – very cool Cirque du Soleil-type stuff. We had Derek Landy talking about his remarkable success, in a strangely dull interview (the Batman costume rocked, though). We had the very brave Helen O’Driscoll, who lost three sons in a scarcely believable tragedy last year; Tubridy, it must be said, handled the interview with great tact and compassion.

The highlight of the whole show – maybe the whole year – was an interview with Max Mosley. His entire life has been hilariously, eye-poppingly colourful, hardly credible in parts: dad a notorious fascist, the glamour of Formula 1, that sex scandal involving S&M and allegations of Nazi imagery.

With those wonderful plummy tones and James Bond-esque suavity, Mosley came across like a character from some satire of a Frederick Forsyth novel. There was even an Irish connection – he lived in Connemara and Fermoy as a child – and the man is a huge hurling fan to boot. (The ash-stick might come in handy at those dominatrix parties, actually.)

Someone tweeted at one stage tonight, “This is the most Irish thing I’ve ever seen.” I’m not sure if they were being critical, but I take that as a good thing.

The programme is part of the fabric of Ireland, and possibly always will be. In a very essential way, the Late Late is critic-proof, fashion-proof, probably even recession-proof and all. Just cut the blasted length of it in two.

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