It's a new host but same owl show
Cowen interview will test mettle of Tubridy
HE'S the most unpopular man in Ireland -- but he's got the number one vote from the 'Late Late Show'.
New host Ryan Tubridy promised not to skirt the tough questions when he interviews Taoiseach Brian Cowen as his first guest on the show tonight.
He revealed yesterday that Mr Cowen is the first guest in an eclectic line-up which also features former 'Dynasty' actress Joan Collins.
Sharon Corr -- who is promoting her new single -- is also slated to make an appearance, alongside Cherie Blair, wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is currently on a publicity tour for her new women's foundation.
Welsh singer-songwriter David Gray will perform on the show.
While many will be underwhelmed by the first night's guest line-up, Tubridy insisted that he was thrilled with his first batch of interviewees.
"The line-up to me is so good, I was explaining it to my family over breakfast last Saturday, they said 'that's a great line-up, is that from now until Christmas?' and I said 'no, that's Friday next'," he said yesterday.
Posing for photographs yesterday on the new Late Late Show set in Montrose while holding a wooden owl -- the longtime emblem of the show -- Tubridy said the Taoiseach would face tough questions in a "conversational" style.
There was criticism last year when Pat Kenny was seen to give the Mr Cowen an easy ride at the season opener at the Wexford Opera House and subsequent details revealed that the interview had been pre-arranged so as not be "rigorous".
And Tubridy, who comes from a strong Fianna Fail family, will be under pressure straight away to prove that he can handle big, current affairs-style interviews.
"He's got a lot to talk about, he's a lot to say," Tubridy, speaking from his new set, said of the Taoiseach yesterday.
"He knows that we live on a different planet than the one we did a year ago and, as I understand it, he's going to answer the questions that are going to be asked in the tone of a conversation, and not in the tone of an interrogation. It's the nearest thing we're going to have to a state of the nation.
"And, he's a man people want to see. They want to look into the whites of his eyes and say, what's happening, are you the man who can lead us out of what's happening?
"And can he articulate that in a way that people at home having their pot of tea or bottle of wine will understand.
"This isn't 'Tubridy Tonight'. It is the 'Late Late Show'.
"I don't think it would be fair for him to come on and talk about his favourite colour or his favourite movie.
"There are a lot of people who will be watching the show at home that a year ago would have been out having pints with their friends. They can't afford those pints now. They are stuck indoors. They are having trouble making ends meet. We have to ask the Taoiseach, why is that?"
Government sources last night said they expected the head-to-head to be a mixture of the personal and political.
And, in political circles, the interview is being seen as a big moment for the Taoiseach in his efforts to improve communications between his government and the public as his approval ratings hit record lows.
Tubridy said that a revamped version of the familiar 'Late Late' tune from Gay Byrne's tenure, which he described as a "clarion call", will be included tonight, but without the voiceover introduction.
Asked if he was nervous, he replied: "What do you think?"