Review: The Ray D'Arcy Show is back and did a fine job - but he isn't all to blame for its stale formula
Ray D’Arcy was back on RTE One – and with a spanking new format!
Actually, it was more mildly tweaked format as the chat show social media loves to hate (but which, in fact, scores reliably solid ratings) returned for its third series.
Perhaps in response to the criticism he can be standish-off – alright, grumpy – D’Arcy was eager to bond with the studio audience. He exchanged cheeky "banter"– I believe I am using the correct technical term – about last week’s All Ireland final, then invited a chap down to smack a punchbag. Not quite Carpool Karaoke – but a reasonably diverting upgrade from RTE’s standard chat ’n a chair formula.
However, the meat of the broadcast was, as ever, the traditional couch-bound interview. Boxers Bernard Dunne and Joe Ward managed to be both affable and completely forgettable but D’Arcy did well interrogating journalist Mick Clifford about his book on garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.
I would have liked slightly more outrage from D’Arcy as Clifford detailed the conspiracy against McCabe. RTE hosts tend to lean back for fear of causing offence – but it might have served D’Arcy better to channel some of the anger those at home will have felt as the journalist detailed the "deep state" collusion to bring down an insider daring to speak out.
He was fine, too, quizzing Girls Aloud singer and Celebrity Big Brother winner Sarah Harding – even if falling into that old RTE pitfall of strong-arming a celebrity into banging on about their Irish extended family (Harding’s are from Donnycarney).
Still, this was a competent return and not for the first time you wondered why, of all the Montrose mob, D’Arcy should attract such opprobrium. Maybe it’s because, with his daily radio show, he is ubiquitous in that RTE way -– or because we are all au fait with his megabucks pay-cheque.
RTE, it is true, relies too heavily on staid formulas – and, with the Late Late Show lumbering ever onwards, two chat shows in as many nights is overkill. But none of that is D’Arcy’s fault. Time to stop holding him personally responsible for each and every of RTE’s failings.